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Second Tajik Villager Killed In Dispute Over Road Near Kyrgyz-Tajik Border

Kyrgyzstan. Cars stranded at Batken. Kyrgyz-Tajik border. March 2019

Deadly violence has broken out for a second consecutive day along a disputed section of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border after Kyrgyzstan restarted construction work on a controversial road in the area.

An official in Tajikistan's Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that one villager from Tajikistan's Vorukh exclave in the Ferghana Valley was killed by gunfire on March 14 and two other Tajik villagers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

The violence came a day after a Tajik villager was shot dead at the same location during a clash between residents of the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai and the Tajik village of Mehnatobod.

The villager slain on March 14 was named by Tajik officials as 37-year-old Rafouddin Teshaev.

The main directorate of the Tajik Border Guards says 43-year-old Tajik villager Husein Hakimov was shot dead on March 13 in a clash that left 11 other Tajik citizens hospitalized.

It says the March 13 clash began when dozens of Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers confronted and threw stones at each other near the road construction site.

Tajik authorities say that violence escalated quickly, and gun shots were fired, after a storage shed of a Kyrgyz villager and a flour mill belonging to a Tajik villager were set ablaze.

Kyrgyzstan says one Kyrgyz villager from Ak-Sai was hospitalized on March 13.

Kyrgyzstan has been attempting to build a new stretch of road in the area for years, stopping and restarting construction work repeatedly while negotiators from the two countries try to reach a formal border delineation agreement.

Tajikistan insists the proposed path of the road cuts through disputed territory, and that the road should not be built until a deal is reached on the exact location of the border.

Officials from both countries say construction work on the road has, once again, been halted while negotiators discuss the situation.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's parliament on March 14 announced it is launching an official hearing on "the situation along the Krygyz-Tajik border."

Many border areas in Central Asian former Soviet republics have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.