Leilek conflict: why do CSTO countries attack each other?

Leilek conflict: why do CSTO countries attack each other?

The situation on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan escalated in Leilek district on April 28. A day later military clashes between the Kyrgyz and Tajik forces broke out. Late on April 29, the sides agreed on a ceasefire and pulling back troops. Both Bishkek and Dushanbe reported a large number of injuries..

Three servicemen of a special task force of the Border Service of Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security were killed in military clashes on the border with Tajikistan, the service reported on Friday.

"On April 29, 2021 during the military clashes with the Tajik side three servicemen of a special task force Boru of the State Committee for National Security’s Border Service were killed and 22 servicemen sustained various injuries," according to the statement.

More than a dozen of buildings have been burnt down in Kyrgyzstan after military clashes between the Kyrgyz and Tajik servicemen on the border, the Central Asian republic’s Emergencies Ministry said. "In the wake of the conflict on the territory of the republic a school, a border outpost and several one-story houses have been burnt down," the ministry said in a statement, noting that this was only preliminary data.

Kyrgyzstan’s authorities have evacuated to safe areas more than 2,500 people from the conflict zone on the border with Tajikistan, the Red Crescent’s mission in the Central Asian republic reported on Friday.

According to the organization, a total of 2,726 local citizens have been evacuated from the area of military clashes between the two countries’ forces.

"The team of the Red Crescent of Kyrgyzstan in the city of Batken (regional center of Kyrgyzstan) keeps providing food and psychological support for those evacuated in the temporary accommodation centers," the report said. Among those evacuated are mainly women and children, who were accommodated in schools and sports facilities in the Batken Region.

The commissions established in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to settle the armed incident on the border have held their first meeting and agreed to take measures to avoid escalation of tensions in the region.

"The commissions <…> discussed the reasons behind and consequences of the incident and reached a joint agreement to end the armed conflict, withdraw personnel and hardware to their permanent bases, take measures to avoid further escalation of tensions, create a joint working group involving officers of law enforcement agencies and staffers of the two countries’ executive branches to fully realize the set out measures and create relevant stabilizing conditions for a fruitful negotiating process in the interests of two friendly nations and states," the document reads.

Delegations of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have held talks in the city of Isfara, Sughd Region bordering Kyrgyzstan, and issued a joint statement to reaffirm their intention to end the armed conflict that broke out on the border between the two countries on April 29. The statement was signed by Chairman of the Tajik State Committee for National Security Saymumin Yatimov and authorized envoy of the Kyrgyz government Omurbek Suvanaliev, the text was published on Friday by Tajikistan’s Khovar news agency.

It said that the commissions created by the two states for settlement of the armed conflict on the border on April 29, 2021 "discussed the reasons behind and consequences of the incident and reached a joint agreement to end the armed conflict, withdraw personnel and hardware to their permanent bases, take measures to avoid further escalation of tensions, create a joint working group involving officers of law enforcement agencies and staffers of the two countries’ executive branches to fully realize the set out measures and create relevant stabilizing conditions for a fruitful negotiating process in the interests of two friendly nations and states," the document reads.

On the evening of April 29, the sides agreed to establish a ceasefire and withdraw their military units to their places of permanent assignment. According to the latest reports, 13 people died and 134 more were injured on the Kyrgyz side, 8 people died and 110 more were injured on the Tajik side.

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office has launched an investigation into the recent clash on the Tajik border. "On April 29, 2021, this incident was recorded in the Prosecutor General's Office of Kyrgyzstan in the automated informational system <…> under Article 380 of the Kyrgyz Criminal Code (crime against peace)," the office said in a statement.

The Kyrgyz-Tajik border is about 980 km long. Dozens of disputed sections remained along the border following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last meeting of the demarcation commission was held in March 2021, and the delegations were led by the chairmen of the State Committees for National Security of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. At some sections, disputes and conflicts arise from time to time between residents of the border areas.

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