By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian military reported on Thursday a second fatality suffered this year by its forces deployed along the most volatile section of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.
The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said Major Yervand Pashikian, was shot dead by an Azerbaijani sniper on Wednesday morning in the westernmost section of the heavily militarized frontier close to the Armenian town of Noyemberian. A ministry statement gave no further details, saying only that military authorities are investigating the incident.
The ministry spokesman, Seyran Shahsuvarian, told RFE/RL that Pashikian commanded an army engineers unit and was shot dead as he oversaw work on new fortifications at the local Armenian positions. Pashikian, 48, is one of the most senior Armenian army officers killed in action since a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war for Nagorno-Karabakh in May 1994.
Noyemberian and nearby villages are part of Armenia’s northern Tavush region bordering the Gazakh and Tovuz districts in western Azerbaijan. The area has seen an upsurge in deadly skirmishes between rival troops deployed on either side of the border. An 18-year-old Armenian conscript was fatally wounded there on January 22.
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Safar Abiev met in the same area last October to discuss ways of preventing truce violations along the border as well as the main Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact east of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflicting parties have blamed each other for such violations.