BISHKEK, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Uzbekistan has reopened rail links at border crossings with Kyrgyzstan, after several weeks of closure amid civil unrest near the countries' shared boundary, Kyrgyzstan's border service said Tuesday.
Uzbekistan closed its railroad and other border crossings with Kyrgyzstan earlier this month, after a group of residents from Uzbekistan's exclave of Sokh – a predominantly ethnic Tajik area that lies fully within southern Kyrgyzstan – allegedly attacked Kyrgyz border guards in the surrounding Batken Region and took dozens of Kyrgyz prisoners.
Several Uzbek citizens were reportedly injured by gunfire during the incident, while five Kyrgyz citizens were hospitalized.
The closure left both Sokh residents and Kyrgyz villages that depend largely on rail and land links with the exclave virtually isolated.
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are holding talks on opening up the remaining closed border crossings, Kyrgyzstan’s State Border Service added.
Tensions have existed for years between the two Central Asian countries, in part because of disputes over water resources. More recently, in 2010, inter-ethnic riots erupted in southern Kyrgyzstan between the ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek populations.
Correction: An earlier version of this article made references to northern Kyrgyzstan instead of southern Kyrgyzstan.
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