Alwaght- Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have agreed on another truce to end days of clashes at their shared border.
The heads of the two Central Asian countries’ state security bodies said in a joint announcement on Saturday that they agreed on “a full ceasefire and the pullout of forces.”
The statement said that the “a principal agreement was reached on ... ensuring peace and stability on Kyrgyz and Tajik soil.”
“In the near future we will iron out all problems and our nations will live as always in friendship and mutual understanding, and stability will be ensured,” it added.
Clashes erupted on Wednesday, with residents on both sides of the border throwing rocks at each other over a dispute to control an irrigation canal in the region. The situation quickly escalated with border guards and other security forces on both sides exchanging gunfire.
Nearly 10,000 civilians have been evacuated from the conflict zone and relocated to temporary shelters in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken province.
At least 49 people have so far been killed in the clashes.
The ceasefire announcement came hours after Bishkek said Tajik troops “opened fire on dwellings” in Batken's Leilik district on Saturday despite an earlier ceasefire that was agreed on Thursday.
“The tragedy that happened in the border area must never happen again,” said Saimumin Yatiyev, head of Tajikistan’s State National Security Committee, as he stood next to his Kyrgyz counterpart Kamchybek Tashiyev.
Tajikistan's foreign ministry later published a statement confirming the agreement on withdrawal of forces from the border and noted the “brotherly nations” had “declared their readiness...to resolve all existing border issues.”
On Saturday, the presidents of the two nations also spoke on the phone to discuss further steps, their offices said.
Kyrgyz protesters demand weapons
In the meantime, an angry crowd of several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in the Kyrgyz side against what they called an invasion attempt by Dushanbe.
They rallied in central Bishkek demanding weapons from the government to fight Tajiks at the border.
In response, the national security council issued a statement via Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov's office, saying that the protesters’ demands were impossible to fulfil “because they are fraught with consequences.”
The crowd had mostly dispersed by the evening.
Kyrgyz authorities said on Saturday that 39 people have been killed in the conflict, and announced two days of mourning.
Tajikistan has yet to officially acknowledge any deaths or damages, but local media citing regional officials said on Friday that 10 people had died.
Russia ready to assist both sides on resolving situation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a phone conversation with his Kyrgyz and Tajik counterparts on Saturday, urging them to stick to the ceasefire agreement.
“Russia is ready to continue to provide all necessary assistance to this process in accordance with the principles of strategic partnership and alliance with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,” he said.
Lavrov said Moscow hopes that both Dushanbe and Bishkek “will strictly follow their commitments in the interests of completely normalizing the situation and restoring an atmosphere of trust and good-neighborly relations between the two fraternal peoples.”
He noted that the talks took place at the initiative of Moscow.
Moscow is a strategic ally of both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — former Soviet republics — which host Russian military bases.