Dushanbe/Bishkek, 17 September 2022 (TDI): Reports have been emerging about border skirmishes between the neighboring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

However, despite claims of intermittent shelling by both sides, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reported no significant nocturnal incidents on Saturday, indicating that the ceasefire they agreed to follow on Friday was still in effect.

The ceasefire had been negotiated by the military leadership of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan. The fighting between the two neighbors was over a border issue.

Both sides claimed the other was attacking nearby communities with tanks, mortars, rocket artillery, and assault drones. This border issue is a legacy of the former Soviet Union.

Along these lines, Kyrgyzstan has claimed that Tajik soldiers shelled its border outposts on numerous occasions and a number of its citizens had been killed and injured in conflict.

According to the Department of Information and Communications of the Border Guard Service of the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) of the Kyrgyz Republic, the situation at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the Batken region is still tense.

In the Batken region’s Dostuk village, a school building has been taken over by the Tajik military.

Units of the State National Security Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic fired on the “Lyakkan” and “Bogdari” border posts of the State National Security Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic during the armed conflict at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the Batken region.

Moreover, members of the Border Guard Service of the SCNS of the Kyrgyz Republic continue to engage in pitched engagements, adapt appropriately to the shifting circumstances, and deploy cutting-edge weaponry and equipment.

Tajikistan has not released any official death toll figures as yet, but according to security sources, at least seven people died on Friday. On Saturday, Tajik border guards reported that one of their outposts had suffered shelling.

Regardless, the administration of Tajikistan’s Sughd province in the north, where fighting broke out, claimed on Saturday that tensions were lowering there.

The situation on the border is calming, and people are getting back to their usual lives, according to a statement from the government.

It is pertinent to note that when the border fighting broke out, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov were attending the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan.

President Sadyr Japarov discussed the state of the Kyrgyz-Tajik sector of the state boundary with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit. 

The Presidents of both countries agreed to direct relevant government organizations to put out the fire and withdraw persons and equipment from the line of contact. Yet, the situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik section of the state border is still tense.

Furthermore, in light of the most recent round of clashes with Tajikistan, it is also important to enunciate that Sadyr Japarov, the President of Kyrgyzstan, recently remarked in a speech that the border issue is a complicated one that calls for great care & patience.

In this vein, he assured that continued efforts will be made to end the conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border as soon as possible.

Background of the dispute

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan gained independence. While the conflict arose when local Tajik citizens sought control of the Isfara River’s water distribution system and Tajik soldiers installed surveillance cameras in the area.

The Isfara is a river in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan that flows through the Syr Darya basin. It is known as Ak-Suu in its upper course and Karavshin in its middle course.

It rises in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken Region. It is fed by glaciers on the Turkestan Range’s northern flank and flows in a western arc around a foothill chain at first. 

It then continues on its northerly trajectory. It runs through Vorukh, a Tajik exclave, and then crosses the border into Tajikistan’s Sughd Region.

Isfara then flows through the city of the same name in the Ferghana Valley’s southwest. Also, the river flows 30 kilometers north to the Uzbek border at Rabot.

North of Rabot, the Isfara produces an alluvial cone. The entering river water is then channeled northeast to the Great Fergana Canal. The Isfara is 130 kilometers long and drains a 3240 km2 region.

The river is primarily fed by glacier and snowmelt meltwater. Summer months from July to September account for 60% of annual runoff. A portion of the river’s water is diverted for cultivation.