At least 15 fighters were killed by Tajik authorities after an armed group attacked a checkpoint on the border with Uzbekistan in the early hours of Wednesday, according to officials.

Officials further said that during a clash, a soldier and policemen were dead.

“As a result of an operation conducted by law enforcement forces, 15 members of an armed criminal group were neutralised and four more attackers detained,” the country’s interior ministry said.

In July this year, 42 people, including 12 soldiers and 30 rebels were killed in fighting in the remote Tajik region of Gorno-Badakhshan.

Earlier in September, three Tajik soldiers and one Kyrgyz serviceman were dead and more than dozen on both sides wounded in a border clash.

Former Soviet republics Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have struggled for three decades to agree on borders in the Ferghana valley, which is home to several ethnic groups. Two people were killed in clashes at another point of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in March.

A former Soviet republic, Tajikistan plunged into civil war almost as soon as it became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is Central Asia’s poorest nation.