Security measures are being taken to prevent new Azerbaijani saboteur infiltrations into Armenian-controlled territory near Nagorno-Karabakh, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said at a Cabinet meeting in Yerevan on Thursday.
The Armenian minister spoke about the situation along the Line of Contact between Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian defense army and the troops of Azerbaijan in the wake of a major Azerbaijani infiltration into Kelbajar, a districted to the northwest of the enclave that also borders Armenia.
Authorities in Stepanakert said all of the ‘saboteurs’ who penetrated into Kelbajar last week had been either killed or apprehended by Monday. They did not disclose the exact number of alleged infiltrators, but reported the arrest of at least two citizens of Azerbaijan accused of illegally crossing into Karabakh territory for the purpose of engaging in ‘sabotage and reconnaissance’ activities.
Another Azerbaijani ‘saboteur’ was reportedly killed by ethnic Armenian forces after he attacked a vehicle, killing an Armenian officer and wounding the wife of another serviceman. Another civilian, 17-year-old Kelbajar district resident Smbat Tsakanian, was found dead on Tuesday after missing for more than a week. The teenager’s parents believe their son was kidnapped and killed by Azerbaijani commandos.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) after the government meeting, Minister Ohanian said that according to a preliminary theory, Tsakanian was killed by one of the arrested Azerbaijanis.
Ohanian admitted that the alleged Azerbaijani saboteurs may have moved around the territory of Kelbajar after infiltrating, but he denied that they entered the territory of Armenia proper.
“I think that the search for them was organized at a very high level and within a very short period we managed to apprehend them,” said the Armenian defense chief. “I think that the cooperation between the army and the National Security Service is at quite a high level today.”