Another Azerbaijani army officer has been shot dead near Nagorno-Karabakh, the Defense Ministry in Baku said on Monday amid continuing skirmishes on “line of contact” around the disputed territory and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
A ministry statement cited by Azerbaijani and Russian news agencies said Lieutenant Sabuhi Azizov was killed on Monday afternoon by sniper fire from Armenian army positions east of Karabakh. Azizov was posthumously awarded by a medal.
The combat death was reported four days after the Azerbaijani military announced that another officer, Captain Elnur Jafarov, has been shot and killed in a ceasefire violation. It said Jafarov became a “martyr” at a nearby section of the frontline, where an Armenian soldier, Armen Hovannisian, was killed on the night from January 19-20 in what the Armenian side insists was an Azerbaijani incursion.
Both warring sides say that truce violations have increased dramatically since that incident. Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Wednesday that the Armenian side will retaliate for Hovannisian’s death.
The Armenia-backed Karabakh Defense Army suggested on Friday that Jafarov was among the Azerbaijani commandos who allegedly attacked one of its outposts in northeastern Karabakh. The military authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan claimed earlier in the week that two enemy soldiers were killed and several others wounded in the assault. The Azerbaijani side categorically denied attacking Karabakh Armenian positions or suffering casualties in the area.
According to Baku, at least six Azerbaijani soldiers have been seriously injured in non-combat incidents, virtually all of them in “the frontline zone,” since January 19. Three of them were said to have accidentally shot themselves in the leg. The most recent of these incidents was reported on Monday.
The Armenian side has accused Azerbaijan of escalating tensions on the frontlines to hamper further progress in peace talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France. Baku claims the opposite, however.
Novruz Mammadov, a senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said on Monday that the Armenians themselves launched “sabotage attacks” on Azerbaijani army positions last week. “With these provocative actions, Armenia wants to leave the international community with the impression that it stands for peace, whereas Azerbaijan is against,” Mammadov said, according to Haqqin.az.