BISHKEK, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgystan border guards have opened up a corridor for delivery of humanitarian aid to residents of the Uzbek enclave of Sokh, located in the southwest of the country, the border guard service said on Saturday.
"In accordance with previous agreements, the Uzbek side carried out delivery of vital cargo to the Sokh enclave," the border guard service said.
Sokh, a predominantly ethnic Tajik area which lies fully within southern Kyrgyzstan, has been a flashpoint of tension since January, when a group of local residents allegedly attacked Kyrgyzstan border guards in the neighboring 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.
Uzbekistan closed its railroad and other border crossings with Kyrgyzstan following the incident, but did not explain its actions. The closure left both Sokh residents and Kyrgyz villages that depend largely on rail and land links with the enclave virtually isolated.
Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev on Friday ordered the republic's border guard service to "lower the level of tension" in border territories, and said Kyrgyzstan would "support previously made agreements with the Uzbek side and an objective approach when looking at border issues."
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.
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