One Armenian and two Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed in continuing skirmishes around Nagorno-Karabakh and along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.
News agencies cited Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry as saying on Thursday that one of its army conscripts was shot dead by Armenian forces northeast of Karabakh while the other at a western section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier on Wednesday.
According to the Defense Ministry in Yerevan, two Armenian soldiers were wounded by Azerbaijani snipers at that border section on the same day. It is not clear if they required hospitalization.
The ministry spokesman, Davit Karapetian, said both Azerbaijanis were shot in retaliatory fire.
“In this case, there was an increase in sniper activity on the Azerbaijani side,” Karapetian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “That presupposes corresponding punitive actions which our armed forces have always taken and will continue to take.”
“The Azerbaijani side bears full responsibility for that,” added the official.
Another Armenian serviceman, Yuri Sargsian, was killed on Wednesday on the main Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline east of Karabakh. The Karabakh Armenian military said the 24-year-old was fatally wounded in the head.
A separate statement issued by the ministry said Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian discussed the deadly incidents with his Azerbaijani counterpart Safar Abiyev in Brussels on Thursday on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial conference on Afghanistan. It said Ohanian “drew his attention to the latest instances of ceasefire violation by Azerbaijan.” No further details were reported.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry blamed the Armenians for the ceasefire violations highlighting the persisting risk of renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The volatile situation on the frontline was also underlined late last month by the reported destruction by Karabakh Armenian forces of an Azerbaijani spy drone flying over the disputed territory.
U.S., Russian and French diplomats trying to broker a peaceful solution to the Karabakh dispute said last week that they will propose to the conflicting parties “additional measures aimed at strengthening implementation of the ceasefire” during their upcoming visit to the region. They did not disclose those measures.
The three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have previously urged the parties to withdraw their snipers from the heavily militarized “line of contact.” The idea is backed by the Armenian side but opposed by Baku.