Death toll in Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict rises to 71 – Putin calls for de-escalation

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By CNBCTV18.com STI (Update)

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Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday the death toll in their border dispute had risen to 71 people, as a fragile ceasefire was held between two Central Asian countries for a second day.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday the death toll in their border dispute had risen to 81 people as a fragile ceasefire was held between two Central Asian countries for a second day.

The former Soviet republics clashed September 14-16 over a border dispute, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rockets and assault drones to attack outposts and settlements neighbours.

Border issues in Central Asia largely stem from the Soviet era when Moscow attempted to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located in the middle of those of other ethnicities.

Kyrgyzstan on Sunday reported 46 deaths in previous fighting and also said it had evacuated around 137,000 people from the conflict zone. The government has declared September 19 a day of mourning for the victims.

Tajikistan also reported its casualties on Sunday, saying 35 people had been killed. He reported no mass evacuations from the area.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire on September 16, which largely held firm despite several alleged bombardments.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has held phone talks with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan following clashes on the border of the Central Asian republics, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

“Vladimir Putin urged the parties to prevent further escalation and to take steps to resolve the situation exclusively through peaceful, political and diplomatic means as soon as possible and confirmed Russia’s readiness to provide the necessary assistance to ensure the stability in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border region.”

(with the contribution of the agencies)

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