The armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan clashed at a disputed section of their border on April 29, leaving 30 dead and thousands displaced before a ceasefire was declared. The fighting broke out near the strategic Golovnoi (also rendered Golovnaya) water pumping facility, in the Tajik-controlled exclave of Vorukh. Kyrgyz protesters gathered on their side of the de facto border after Tajik authorities installed surveillance cameras at the facility. The two sides began hurling rocks at each oher across the line before military troops intervened, and the situation escalated. The Golovnoi facility pumps water from the Isfara River, a tributary of the Syr Darya, to irrigate agriculture in the area. It is in the Fergana Valley, a small fertile pocket in the arid Central Asia region. Soviet authorities drew the boundaries so that Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan each got a portion of it. However, this meant intricate, twisting borders between these nations, and territorial disputes have arisen.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan jointly operate the Golovnoi station, with portions of the water it pumps going to territories in both nations. But tensions over its administration have mounted in recent weeks. Tajik authorities accuse Kyrgyzstan of seeking to seize the Vorukh exclave, while social media users in Kyrgyzstan are circulating photos of Soviet-era archival documents supposedly proving that the exclave is legally within their nation’s territory. (BBC News, NYT, AP, Al Jazeera, RFE/RL, EurasiaNet)