RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier notes that the latest deadly clashes on the long-restive Kyrgyz-Tajik border drastically alter the situation there and change how the two countries see themselves and each other -- with consequences for the leaders in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Previous violence along the border stretching back some 15 years was reportedly always localized, involving several villages on opposite sides of the poorly marked or unmarked sections of the frontier. The hostilities usually centered around work near water sources or the construction or alteration of roads, fences, and walls.

The latest conflict on April 28 began much like previous conflicts did.  But what began on April 28 went in a different direction.  There was an exchange of gunfire early on April 29 in the area of the intake station.  Each side blames the other for starting the shooting.  With the exception of isolated gunshots along the border, the fighting finally ended on April 30.

But the casualties and the damage from the violence were reportedly unprecedented, with at least 36 Kyrgyz and 18 Tajik citizens killed, along with more than 200 injured.  Additionally, dozens of homes, shops, and other structures were destroyed or damaged and tens of thousands of people were displaced.

And accusations were flying from both sides about the wanton destruction carried out by the other country’s forces.

After this latest round of fighting, any kinship that existed has been lost as there are feelings among the Kyrgyz that Tajikistan has attacked Kyrgyzstan, inflicted losses, and that Kyrgyzstan did little to stop it.

And that has angered many Kyrgyz citizens, RFE/RL expert notes.

The root of these violent conflicts is almost always related to a dispute over the shared border, with some 450 kilometers of the 970-kilometer Kyrgyz-Tajik frontier still not demarcated.