BAKU, (AFP) - An Azeri soldier captured by Armenian forces during a skirmish near the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has been handed back to his own side, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday.
The soldier, 20-year-old Elmeddin Abbiyev, who was wounded in the skirmish, was escorted across the ceasefire line separating the two sides by ICRC delegates on Wednesday, the organization said in a statement.
Since his capture on January 9, Abbiyev had been undergoing treatment for his injuries in an Armenian hospital in the enclave. He had not been fit to be moved until now, Armenian doctors said.
"One military serviceman who had been injured at the time of his capture was handed over to the concerned Azeri authorities", the ICRC said. "The operation took place...with the full co-operation of all sides."
Nagorno-Karabakh's mainly ethnic Armenian population fought a war of secession from Azerbaijan which ended in 1994 with most of the enclave under the de facto control of neighboring Armenia. Despite a ceasefire monitored by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, firefights are frequent on the front line and both sides regularly take prisoners.
In the most recent incident, Armenia's defense ministry reported on January 30 that an Armenian soldier had been killed by the Azeri side.