By Emil Danielyan
An Armenian army soldier was shot dead on Monday in what the Defense Minister in Yerevan described as a violation of ceasefire by Azerbaijani forces.
A ministry statement said Armen Malkhasian, 18, was wounded in the head by an Azerbaijani sniper and died as he was rushed to a hospital in the north-eastern Armenian town of Berd. “An investigation is underway,” read the brief statement.
Malkhasian is the first casualty reportedly suffered by the Armenian military this year. The previous Armenian fatality was reported from another, more volatile section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border situated further to the west.
The area adjacent to eastern Georgia saw regular skirmishes last year between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops. Each side reported casualties and accused the other of breaching the ceasefire regime. The defense ministers of the two warring nations met there last October to discuss ways of preventing truce violations along the heavily militarized frontier and the main Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact east of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Armenian military detained an Azerbaijani army conscript in the same area late last month. He was said to have willingly crossed the frontline and surrendered himself, saying that he was systematically mistreated and humiliated by his Azerbaijani commanders. The 19-year-old soldier, identified as Samir Mamedov, remains in Armenian captivity, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reportedly trying to arrange his repatriation.
The ICRC helped to repatriate two other Azerbaijani prisoners of war last month.