BISHKEK/TASHKENT, July 23 (RIA Novosti) – An Uzbek border guard was killed and another seriously injured in an exchange of fire across the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border on Tuesday.
According to Kyrgyzstan’s border service, the incident occurred around 10:25 a.m. local time when a border guard detail comprised of three servicemen detected two Uzbek border guards who “illegally intruded into Kyrgyzstan’s territory.”
In response to a demand to leave the republic’s territory, the Uzbek border guards started a “verbal argument that subsequently developed into a clash,” a representative of the Kyrgyz border service told RIA Novosti.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s State Border Protection Committee said the incident happened on Uzbek soil and demanded an explanation from Kyrgyzstan over the shooting, according to a statement by the State Border Protection Committee, a copy of which was obtained by RIA Novosti.
It said four Kyrgyz border guards intruded into Uzbek territory and opened fire without any provocation, which is “the grossest possible violation” of the rules of conduct on the border.
The committee’s press service said empty shells from the rounds fired by Kyrgyz border guards were found on Uzbekistan’s territory about 100 meters from the state border.
A source in the committee later told RIA Novosti that the second border guard, who was seriously injured in the attack, died in the hospital without regaining consciousness.
There are currently about 50 disputed sections on the 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border between the two Central Asian countries, with 354 kilometers of the border yet to be delimitated. A previous incident on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border occurred on June 20 when Uzbek border guards shot dead a Kyrgyz national. Early this year, a major border incident occurred near the Uzbek enclave of Sokh in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region, when Uzbek residents attacked Kyrgyz border guards and took hostage about 30 Kyrgyz citizens. The conflict seriously aggravated bilateral ties: Uzbekistan temporarily closed border-crossing points along its side of the border.
Updates with Uzbekistan reaction, report that second border guard died, specifies number of Kyrgyz border guards