At least two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday in what the Karabakh Armenian military described as a failed commando raid on its positions in the disputed territory’s north.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry claimed, however, that the deadly fighting resulted from an Armenian “offensive” in what has been the most volatile section of the “line of contact” around Karabakh in recent months. News reports from Baku said the ministry identified the killed servicemen as Ahmed Abdullayev, 34, and Farid Ahmedov, 24, but did not specify their military ranks.
In a written statement, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Army said they were among about a dozen Azerbaijani commandos who attacked one of its outposts early in the morning with the apparent aim of capturing an Armenian soldier. It said its forces suffered no casualties while repelling the attack.
One of the Azerbaijani servicemen was apparently shot dead in Armenian-controlled territory, something which the authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert will present as further proof that the incident, the second of its kind in less than a week, was provoked by the Azerbaijani army. His body was shown by Armenia’s Public Television late on Saturday lying in a Karabakh Armenian trench.
Citing military officials on the ground, the state-run broadcaster said he jumped into the trench before being knocked down by one Armenian soldier and shot by another. It also showed the Defense Army commander, Lieutenant-General Movses Hakobian, visiting the outpost and awarding several soldiers with replica watches.
The Trend news agency cited the Defense Ministry in Baku as saying, without elaboration, that the dead soldier’s body was simply “seized” by the Armenians. It said the other Azerbaijani victim was fatally wounded in a “shootout provoked by the Armenian side.” No further details were reported.
The fighting occurred just four days after at least two other Azerbaijani soldiers died in the same area in similarly unclear circumstances. The Azerbaijani military said its forces were attacked by an Armenian “sabotage group,” while military officials in Karabakh and Armenia claimed the opposite.
The same section of the frontline was also the scene of another serious violation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire reported in June. That incident left one Azerbaijani and four Armenian soldiers dead, raising more fears of renewed all-out war in Karabakh.