A Tajik soldier has been killed in a shoot-out between border forces at Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s contested frontier, according to local and Russian media reports citing sources on both sides.
Shootouts between border troops of the two impoverished Central Asian countries have become increasingly frequent recently as delimitation talks make little progress.
Tajikistan, a closed authoritarian state, made no statement on the latest flare-up, but police in the Tajik city of Isfara near the border told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Kyrgyz border guards opened fire on Tajik troops “without reason” on Tuesday morning.
“As a result, a border guard soldier died and three people were injured,” the news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a representative of the city police department.
The privately-owned Tajik news website Asia-Plus also reported the death of a Tajik soldier, quoting a resident of the Tajik enclave of Vorukh, which is close to where the shoot-out took place.
Kyrgyzstan’s border service said in a statement the incident occurred after Tajik troops opened fire on a Kyrgyz border post and accused the Tajik side of firing mortars after a brief lull in fighting.
The statement said the shoot-out had stopped and that representatives of the two border services were holding talks.
“The first result of the negotiations was the decision to withdraw units from their combat positions,” the Kyrgyz border service said.
More than a third of the two countries’ 1,000km (600 miles) border remains disputed.
Serious escalations are rare, but fears of a wider conflict stirred last year when dozens died in the worst confrontation between the pair in more than 30 years of post-Soviet independence.