On September 14th, armed clashes began on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with the majority of combat taking place on September 16th. By the evening of September 16th, the heads of the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (SCNS) announced a ceasefire, but shooting on the border continued throughout the next day. Only by the evening of September 18th did the Border Service of Kyrgyzstan announce that the situation was stabilizing.
Kloop tried to investigate what Foreign Ministries of both countries said about the armed clashes on the border.
What did the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs say?
The Foreign Ministry of Kyrgyzstan issued a message on the evening of September 18th in response to a statement made by the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan regards the September 14th to 17th events on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border as “a pre-planned armed act of aggression by Tajikistan against Kyrgyzstan.”
“The Republic of Tajikistan grossly violated fundamental international principles such as territorial integrity, inviolability of state borders, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, non-use of force and threat of force, as well as respect for human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and other international documents,” reported the Foreign Ministry of Kyrgyzstan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that Kyrgyzstan “acted solely from a defensive position”, in contrast to Tajikistan.
“Kyrgyzstan did not set out to seize foreign territory, unlike Tajikistan, which violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Kyrgyzstan in bad faith, and once again confirmed Tajikistan’s pretensions to Kyrgyz territory,” says the Foreign Office statement. At the same time, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tajikistan “carried out the seizure” of individual settlements in the Batken oblast — the villages of Dostuk, Aksai, Internatsional, Zhashtyk, Borborduk, Arka, and Kulundu.
“The illegal actions of Tajikistan are an aggressive and destabilizing action, going against bilateral and multilateral agreements, the spirit of good-neighbourliness, and mutual care between the peoples of our countries,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also voiced the demands of Kyrgyzstan: Tajikistan should abandon “encroachments” on Kyrgyz territory and stop “escalations of the situation on the border”.
“We are declaring a strong protest against the illegal and destructive actions of Tajikistan, which, having violated all previously-reached agreements, pulled troops to the border of Kyrgyzstan in advance and, using armed forces and heavy weaponry, indiscriminately attacked the border, civilian objects, and settlements along the entire perimeter of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border,” stressed the Ministry.
The Ministry considers all accusations from Tajikistan against the Kyrgyz military as “a futile attempt to shift responsibility and guilt onto Kyrgyzstan”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan insists that information from the qualified authorities of Tajikistan is untrue.
“Kyrgyzstan possesses all the evidence (photographs and video) that records the beginning of the aggression, as well as all the atrocities and crimes committed by Tajik soldiers on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. If necessary, Kyrgyzstan is ready to provide this evidence», said the statement.
In their concluding remarks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that “the situation provoked by Tajikistan” resulted in significant losses among the civilian population of Kyrgyzstan.
“The actions ofTajikistan can lead to the unleashing of a large-scale inter-state conflict, as well as to the destabilization of the situation in Central Asia as a whole”, says the statement.
What does the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs say?
Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry accuses Kyrgyzstan in beginning the military confrontations.
“Border troops of the State Security Committee of Kyrgyzstan, with the support of other formations of their Armed Forces, on September 14th, at 7:15am, without any reason, committed an act of armed aggression against Tajikistan,” said the Ministry.
They added that “hostile actions of shelling with mortars, and firing with machine guns and other small arms” led to the death of two Tajik soldiers.
“Simultaneously with these provocative actions, Kyrgyzstan carried out the transfer of additional forces and heavy weaponry to the border”.
The Foreign Ministry stressed that on September 16th, the Kyrgyz military violated the agreements on de-escalation and reduction of forces, and shelled the border guard post “Dushanbe”, using heavy weapons.
“Kyrgyz servicemen carried out an armed attack on the villages of Khojay Alo, Kummazor, Surkh, Somoniyen, Kulkand, Isfari, Histevarz and Ovchi Kalach Bobobjon, in the Gafurov district, using military equipment. In particular, residential areas of the village of Chorkishlok in the city of Isfara were subjected to mass shelling from an infantry fighting vehicle and armored personnel carriers,” reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan claims that the Kyrgyz military also invaded the territory of the village of Bogdori, Jamoat Chilgazi, and the city of Isfara, and burned 16 houses of local residents, marauding and looting there.
“Objects of civilian infrastructure have been subjected to targeted attacks by the servicemen of Kyrgyzstan”, said the diplomatic missive.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan insists that it was the “Kyrgyz side that opened fire on the entire perimeter of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border”.
In the diplomatic missive of Tajikistan, they insist that Kyrgyzstan violated the ceasefire and the resumption of peace negotiations by “continuing the shelling of populated areas”.
“Contrary to the generally accepted principles of humanism, and in violation of the norms of International Humanitarian Law, Kyrgyz soldiers fired on an ambulance in the village of Chorkishlok Jamoat Zumrad and the city of Isfara, which was transporting wounded civilians,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, after the Ceasefire Agreement of September 16th, “Kyrgyzstan used combat helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during an attack”.
They stress that at least 18 civilians were killed by drone strikes on a school and a mosque. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan claimed that on September 17th, Kyrgyzstan again violated the ceasefire and used mortars and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to shell Tajik territory.
The Foreign Ministry called this “provocative actions and aggression against Tajikistan”.
“Recently, in order to create the image of an ‘aggressor’ in its neighbor, Kyrgyzstan outright lies and insinuations to continue an informational campaign against Tajikistan, thereby escalating tensions on the border. On September 17th, in his address to the nation, the President of Kyrgyzstan used the word ‘enemy’ in relation to Tajikistan, which does not correspond to the spirit of friendship and good neighborliness,’ the Tajik Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The armed conflict
The armed conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border began on September 14th, and on September 16th it seriously escalated.
According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan (MES), more than 130,00 people were evacuated from several districts of the Batken oblast, and 5,301 people were evacuated from the Chon-Alai district of the Osh oblast.
Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan (SCNS) said that, as a result of clashes, there were “many” victims from Kyrgyz side.
The Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan reports that according to preliminary data, 59 people died and 144 were injured.
According to preliminary data from the Tajik Foreign Ministry, more than 30 citizens were killed and more than 20 people were injured.
On the evening of September 18th, the Border Service of Kyrgyzstan stated that the situation at the border remains tense with a tendency towards stabilization.