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Tensions ebb in Kyrgyzstan-Tajikstan fight over water resources

File picture of a military drill held in early April in the border region of Batken in Kyrgyzstan
File picture of a military drill held in early April in the border region of Batken in Kyrgyzstan KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENCY/GETTY IMAGES

After a flare-up this week, a bloody border clash between troops from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan seems to have calmed down and the plan is now for soldiers on both sides to be withdrawn.

The heads of the national security committees on both sides had agreed to this, as well as compliance with a ceasefire, on Saturday
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Both countries’ presidents have also spoken over the phone and agreed to meet, though it was left open as to when exactly it would happen.

Kyrgyz border guards had announced on Sunday that the situation was stable, according to the internet portal 24kg.org. That was just hours after the Kyrgyz side accused its neighbour of firing at vehicles over access to water supplies – which Tajikistan denies.

The conflict escalated a few days ago when Tajik officials wanted to install a surveillance camera near a water distribution system.

The spot in question lies in area controlled by Kyrgyzstan. Water from a canal feeds a reservoir which is one of the most important sources of water for people in the Batken region. But Tajikistan claims it ought to have access to the water, citing older maps.

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Kyrgyz citizens were against the move, and according to a report, began to throw stones. Both sides then bulked up their border troops, who fired at each other, leaving over 40 people dead in the meantime.

Both countries in Central Asia became independent after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. However, disputes along their nearly 1,000-kilometre shared border are common in the past decades.

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