By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
The Nagorno-Karabakh military confirmed on Friday reports that its forces captured one Azerbaijani soldier and killed another in a skirmish some 20 kilometers east of the unrecognized republic on Wednesday.
According to the Defense Ministry in Stepanakert, the brief battle occurred after a small group of Azerbaijani troops tried to “penetrate Nagorno-Karabakh territory” across the line of contact in Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district. Most of the district, including its administrative center, the town of Aghdam, has been under Karabakh Armenian control since 1993.
Ministry officials said the captured serviceman, identified by Azerbaijani sources as Elmeddin Abiev, was seriously wounded in the fighting and underwent successful surgery in a Karabakh military hospital. They said they have informed local representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Red Cross of the incident.
An OSCE official who periodically monitors the ceasefire regime along the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact was quoted by Azerbaijani media as pledging to investigate the shoot-out. The official, Andrzei Kasprszyk, said he will try to negotiate the Azerbaijani soldier’s release with Armenian officials.
The Baku daily “Zerkalo” reported that an Azerbaijani government agency in charge of prisoners of war has also asked the International Committee of Red Cross to arrange for Abiev’s repatriation.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, which did not admit any fatalities among its troops this week, always blames the Armenian side for sporadic breaches of the 1994 truce agreement that stopped the war in Karabakh. Officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert claim the opposite.
Kasprszyk was quoted as saying that the OSCE field office in the region will monitor the ceasefire regime in the Aghdam section of the frontline later this month.