Kyrgyz president urges calm after deadly conflict with Tajikistan



Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov urged his country on Monday to have trust in its army and strategic partners, and said there was no need for volunteer forces at the border with Tajikistan after deadly clashes there last week.

At least 100 people were killed between September 14 and 16 in fighting involving the use of tanks, aviation and rocket artillery on a disputed section of the border in Kyrgyzstan's Batken province.

"We continue our efforts to resolve the Kyrgyz-Tajik border issues in a purely peaceful way," Zhaparov said in a televised address on a national day of mourning.

"Another point I would like to mention: I urge calm among the men and youths who are willing to go to Batken ... We have courageous warriors and enough forces to repel those who violate our borders."

Zhaparov also asked Kyrgyz not to trust "provocateurs who slander our strategic partners, friendly nations and peoples who share our position."

Separately, Russian news agencies reported that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to pull out additional military hardware and forces from the border, citing a statement from the head of the Sogdiyskaya region of Tajikistan.

Both sides have also agreed to continue to resolve the border conflict.

Kyrgyz authorities also said they had negotiated on Monday for the release of four border guards who had been captured by Tajik troops during the conflict.

Tajikistan's foreign ministry said on Monday the key to resolving the conflict lay in negotiations, and it reiterated its position that Kyrgyzstan had instigated the fighting.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sodik Emomi told a briefing that ethnic Tajiks who were not Tajik citizens were being detained in Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz drones had been spotted flying into Tajik territory overnight.

Emomi said there have been more than 230 border incidents between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the last 20 years, and that the focus of the latest conflict was an area covering 2,000 square kilometers.

Former Soviet republics Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are both allied to Moscow and host Russian military bases. Russia has avoided taking sides in the conflict and urged the sides to resolve it peacefully.