Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday that about 100 people have died in a border conflict as a fragile ceasefire between Central Asian countries lasted a second day and their common ally Russia called for a de-escalation.
The former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute on September 14-16, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby communities.
Both countries border China, and Tajikistan also has a long border with Afghanistan.
The long stretches of border separating the two former Soviet states are controversial. More than 50 people were killed in April 2021 clashes, raising the possibility of a wider conflict.
Border issues in Central Asia are largely related to the Soviet era, when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups that often settled among other ethnic groups.
Kyrgyzstan late Sunday reported another 13 fighting deaths, in addition to an earlier loss of 46. The former Soviet state also reported that 102 people were injured.
Earlier, Kyrgyzstan said that it had evacuated about 137,000 people from the conflict zone. The government declared 19 September a day of mourning for the dead.
Kyrgyz media, which called the conflict an invasion, reported on Sunday that some evacuees had already begun to return to their homes.
Tajikistan on Sunday said 35 people had died. No mass evacuations have been reported.
The Tajik Foreign Ministry said Kyrgyzstan was continuing its media campaign against it and noted that Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov used the term “enemy” to refer to Tajikistan in his Saturday address.
Both sides agreed to a ceasefire on September 16, which has largely held despite several alleged attacks.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Zhaparov and former Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, the Kremlin said.
Putin urged the parties to prevent further escalation and take steps to resolve the situation “by exclusively peaceful, political and diplomatic means as soon as possible” by offering assistance, his office said in a statement.