An Armenian soldier has been killed in Nagorno-Karabakh in continuing ceasefire violations on Armenian-Azerbaijani “the line of contact,” military authorities in Stepanakert said on Wednesday.
The Karabakh Defense Army said that the 19-year-old conscript, Karen Galstian, was killed on Tuesday by sniper fire from Azerbaijani army positions northeast of Karabakh. “An investigation is underway to clarify details of the incident,” read a short statement released by the army.
Another Armenian soldier, Armen Hovannisian, was shot dead in that area on the night from January 19-20 in what the Armenian military says was an Azerbaijani commando raid. Skirmishes on the Karabakh frontline and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border dramatically increased following that incident. At least two Azerbaijani servicemen, both of them officers, have been killed by Karabakh Armenian forces since then.
According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, the truce violations have somewhat decreased this week. “I can’t say that tensions have been defused. But compared with January 20-22, they have eased a little,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
In a related development, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced late on Tuesday that its forces have captured a member of an Armenian commando which it said tried to infiltrate western Azerbaijan. The captive, Mamikon Khojoyan, turned out to be a 77-year-old resident of Verin Karmiraghbyur, a border village in Armenia’s northeastern Tavush province.
Some Azerbaijani media outlets reported that Khojoyan was in fact detained by Azerbaijani villagers and handed over to military authorities. They circulated photographs and video of the shabbily dressed man surrounded by Azerbaijani civilians.
The Verin Karmiraghbyur mayor, Kamo Chobanian, said on Wednesday that Khojoyan has suffered from mental disorders in recent years and apparently crossed into Azerbaijan by accident. Chobanian said that the elderly man was last seen by his neighbors on Tuesday afternoon.
“He carried a bucket and told people that he is going to pick grapes or berries. Grapes in winter?” Chobanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Spokesman Hovannisian laughed off the Azerbaijani authorities’ claims about Khojoyan. “I congratulate the Azerbaijani army on catching such saboteurs,” he said with sarcasm.