Kyrgyzstan President Sadir Gabarov on Monday urged his country to trust its army and strategic partners, and said there was no need for volunteer forces on the border with Tajikistan after bloody clashes there last week.
At least 100 people were killed between Sept. 14 and 16 in fighting that involved the use of tanks, aviation and rocket artillery on a disputed part of the border in Kyrgyzstan’s Batkin province.
“We continue our efforts to resolve the Kyrgyz-Tajik border issues in a purely peaceful way,” Gabarov said in a televised speech on a day of national mourning.
“One more point I would like to make: I urge calm among the men and youth who are ready to go to Batken… We have brave warriors and sufficient forces to repel those who transgress our borders.”
Gabarov also asked Kyrgyzstan not to trust “instigators who defame our strategic partners and friendly nations and peoples who share our position.”
Separately, Russian news agencies reported that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan had agreed to withdraw additional equipment and military forces from the border, citing a statement issued by the head of Tajikistan’s Sogdyskaya region.
The two sides also agreed to continue resolving the border dispute.
Kyrgyz authorities also said they negotiated on Monday the release of four border guards captured by Tajik forces during the conflict.
The Tajik Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the key to resolving the conflict lies in negotiations, and reiterated its position that Kyrgyzstan had instigated the fighting.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sudik Emumi told a news briefing that Tajiks who are not Tajik nationals are being held in Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz drones were seen flying over Tajik territory during the night.
Central Asian border issues stem largely from the Soviet era, when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located amidst those of other races.
Emumi said there have been more than 230 border incidents between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the past 20 years, and that the focus in the most recent conflict was over an area of 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles).
The former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are allied with Moscow and host Russian military bases. Russia avoided taking sides in the conflict and urged both sides to resolve it peacefully.