BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – The Kyrgyz health ministry said on Sunday that at least 36 people had been killed in recent border clashes with Tajikistan, increasing its earlier figure of the latest violence between the Central Asian neighbours.

“The total number of dead as a result of the armed conflict in the (Kyrgyz) Batken region is 36,” and another 134 have been injured, the ministry said in a statement.

The previous toll given by the ministry stood at 24 killed.

The Tajik interior ministry said on Saturday civilians had been killed in the clashes, but did not provide a figure.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire on Friday but since then traded accusation of breaching it.

After more clashes on Saturday, the night passed “quietly, without incidents” the Kyrgyz border authorities said on Sunday morning.

“The country’s leadership is taking all measures to stabilise the situation, prevent attempts of escalation… in a peaceful way,” the border authorities said.

On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the leadership of both sides “to engage in dialogue for a lasting ceasefire”, said a spokesman.

Border disputes have dogged the ex-Soviet republics through their three-decade independence, with around half of their 970km-long border still to be demarcated.

Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are part of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) but they regularly clash.

Russia has urged the two countries to de-escalate and said it was ready to help them find a “long term” solution to the border issues.

In 2021, unprecedented clashes between the two sides killed at least 50 people and raised fears of a larger conflict. AFP