Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks address border crisis

Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:09 PM

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Uzbek and Kyrgyz authorities said they would conduct a joint investigation into a hostage crisis involving border confrontations.

Kyrgyz border security chief Iskender Mambetaliev said a number of Kyrgyz citizens were released from the Uzbek district of Sokh following talks with Uzbek authorities.

"(Talks) lasted for several hours and resulted in the transfer of all 16 citizens kept in the territory of a neighboring state by the Uzbek side," he told news agency 24.kg. "We can say that at the moment the incident is over."

Uzbek authorities blamed Kyrgyz border guards for escalating the crisis, saying they fired on residents protesting the installation of electricity towers, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. The regional broadcaster adds, however, that both sides have agreed to investigate the situation jointly.

"Law enforcement agencies of both sides will maintain order," Mambetaliev said.

He cautioned, however, that the Kyrgyz and Uzbek leaders "never coincided" on their positions.

The Kyrgyz report notes that the situation is stable "at the moment."

The Sokh district is surrounded by the southern Kyrgyz province of Batken. The region has been a source of tension between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz governments for more than a decade.

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