Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed armed forces accused Azerbaijan late on Tuesday of refusing to let OSCE representatives monitor the ceasefire regime around Karabakh and shelling its frontline positions afterwards.
The Defense Army said the Azerbaijani side fired 46 rounds from mortars and light cannons at its troops deployed just east and north of the Armenian-populated territory. It said it suffered no casualties.
“If such provocations continue, the Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic reserves the right to take disproportionate actions,” it warned in a statement.
The statement claimed that the shelling began at 5 p.m. shortly after the Azerbaijani military refused to allow OSCE field representatives to approach a section of the Karabakh “line of contact” and conduct regular monitoring there from the Azerbaijani side.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the claims.
Earlier in the day, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev bestowed a posthumous title of “national hero” on an Azerbaijani soldier who was shot dead on the Armenian border in late December. According to news reports, Aliyev said the soldier, Chingiz Qurbanov, was awarded for defending Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The award was announced the day after Armenia handed over Qurbanov’s body to Azerbaijan. The handover was facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Qurbanov as well as three Armenian soldiers were killed in what the Armenian military insists was an Azerbaijani incursion into Armenia’s northern Tavush province bordering western Azerbaijan. Officials in Yerevan say the fact that the Azerbaijani serviceman’s body was left lying in Armenian territory proves that the border post was attacked by Azerbaijani troops.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry has denied launching an incursion in the mountainous area.