Dozens Injured As Fresh Clashes Erupt Along Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border
By RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service June 01, 2020
BISHKEK -- Dozens of people have been injured in the latest clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek citizens in a disputed border region.
The Kyrgyz Health Ministry said on June 1 that 25 Kyrgyz nationals had been injured in the clashes that erupted the day before near Uzbekistan's Sokh exclave in Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken region.
According to the ministry, four of the injured people are hospitalized in the town of Aidarken, with two in very serious condition after surgery.
Residents of the exclave told RFE/RL that 16 locals were injured in the clashes. There was no official confirmation of the claim from the Uzbek authorities.
The Uzbek Border Guard Service said in a statement on May 31 that the situation was under control.
The incident ignited around noon on May 31 after residents of the Kyrgyz village of Chechme and residents of the Uzbek village of Chashma argued about the ownership of a spring located in the area.
RFE/RL correspondents reported from the scene that the villagers started throwing stones at each other before several houses on each side were set on fire.
The Kyrgyz government's press service said on June 1 that Deputy Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov and Uzbek Prime Minister Abdula Aripov had met at a border checkpoint in the area and discussed ways to resolve the tensions.
Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.
One such exclave is Sokh, an ethnic Tajik-populated Uzbek territory within Kyrgyzstan's Batken region, where clashes have been common for years.
In 2013, border crossings through Sokh were closed for several weeks after Sokh residents clashed with Kyrgyz border guards over the installation of electric power lines to a new Kyrgyz border post.
Five Sokh residents were reportedly wounded by Kyrgyz border guards and at least 30 Kyrgyz citizens were subsequently taken hostage.
The latest clashes occurred as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have accused each other of escalating tensions near another disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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