At least six soldiers have been killed in fresh clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh border region, Baku says.
This article originally appeared at Presstv.ir
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a Saturday statement that the clashes occurred on July 24, when “Armenian army units shelled Azerbaijani positions” at the Karabakh front line and the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border.
One Azerbaijani serviceman was killed in crossfire, the statement said, claiming that at least five Armenian troops lost their lives.
However, Yerevan denied any casualties and accused Baku of violating a 1994 ceasefire agreement.
“Some 160 violations have been registered over the past night,” said Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovannisyan, adding, “Armenia’s armed forces returned fire.”
The two ex-Soviet Caucasus countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan claim the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is largely populated by Armenians but located in Azerbaijan.
Ethnic Armenian forces took control of the enclave, which accounts for 16 percent of the Azerbaijan territory, in the early 1990s during a war which lasted from February 1988 to May 1994.
The conflict left an estimated 30,000 people dead and one million others displaced before the two sides agreed to the ceasefire in 1994. A permanent peace accord has never been inked and the dispute remains unsettled.
The new clashes came a day after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that the two nations’ presidents are prepared to “meet each other later this year” in an effort to end the hostility.
Officials in Armenia and Azerbaijan are yet to confirm the statement.
Azerbaijan has threatened to take back the region by force if negotiations between the two sides fail to yield results, while Armenia has pledged to retaliate against any military action.