The Azerbaijani military confirmed on Friday that at least one of its soldiers was shot and killed in Armenian territory in Thursday’s fighting with Armenian troops.
Three Armenian soldiers also died in what the Defense Ministry in Yerevan called an Azerbaijani commando attack on their military post in the northern Tavush province bordering western Azerbaijan. The ministry said its forces killed several of the attackers and that one of their bodies was left lying just outside the border post. It described this fact as “irrefutable evidence” of the Azerbaijani attack.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied launching an incursion in the mountainous area, claiming that an Armenian “reconnaissance squad” was ambushed by its forces while trying to cross into Azerbaijan. It said on Thursday one Azerbaijani soldier went missing as a result.
The ministry said the following day that the soldier, Chingiz Qurbanov, died “in territory controlled by the enemy.” According a ministry statement cited by the APA news agency, Azerbaijani authorities have asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as well as the OSCE to help repatriate Qurbanov’s body.
The statement went on to accuse the Armenian side of “trying to use that event to achieve its dirty objectives.”
An ICRC spokeswoman in Baku told APA that the Red Cross is ready to arrange the handover. She said it is already “in contact with government bodies of the conflicting sides regarding the return of the killed soldier’s border.”
The Armenian Defense Ministry said, meanwhile, that it is trying to establish the identity of the “fatally wounded person dressed in an Azerbaijani army uniform.”
The ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, claimed separately that Armenian troops killed at least four more Azerbaijani soldiers overnight in what he called “punitive actions” taken in retaliation against the deaths of Lieutenant Shavarsh Melikian and Privates Edgar Narayan and Erik Abovian. The Azerbaijani army denied suffering more casualties, however.