Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeWorldArmenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azeri forces

Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azeri forces

Yerevan and Baku accuse each other of opening fire on a heavily militarized border.

Four Armenian soldiers were killed in a shootout with Azeri forces on the two countries’ shared border, threatening to destabilize efforts to defuse a 30-year conflict.

The former Caucasian rivals accused each other on Tuesday of provoking the incident. It is the first reported violence on the volatile border since peace talks began last year in a bid to end protracted fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported that four soldiers were killed and one wounded on Monday at a post in the southern region of Syunik.

“Units of the Azerbaijani armed forces fired small arms fire at Armenian combat positions in the vicinity of Nerkin Hand (a village),” Armenia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Azerbaijan claimed it had launched the “revenge operation” after Armenian forces had earlier opened fire across the heavily militarized border further north.

The Defense Ministry in Baku said Armenian forces had fired on its troop positions along a northwestern section of the border, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Nerkin Hand.

Armenia denied that such an incident had occurred.

Thirty years

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict for more than three decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed landlocked mountainous region in the South Caucasus.

Claimed by both after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the region has remained a point of tension ever since.

The pair fought wars in the 1990s and then in 2020 over the region. Azerbaijan captured it in a blitzkrieg last year.

Almost the entire ethnic Armenian population (more than 100,000 people) fled following Baku’s takeover, causing a refugee crisis.

That led to a renewed push by both sides to reach a treaty that would formally end the conflict.

But peace talks appeared to stall in recent months, with both sides accusing each other of sabotaging the diplomatic process.

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