Armenia claims soldiers killed and detained in border clashes with Azerbaijan

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Armenia on Tuesday reported deaths and loss of military positions in border clashes with Azerbaijani troops, a year after sworn enemies waged war in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The six-week conflict, which has claimed more than 6,500 lives, ended last November with a deal brokered by Russia that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that “there are dead and wounded among Armenian troops as a result of the fighting which broke out following an attack by Azerbaijani forces.”

He said the number of casualties was being verified and that Armenia had “lost control of two military positions”.

The ministry reported later that evening that 12 Armenian servicemen had been captured by the Azerbaijani army.

Earlier on Tuesday, the two sides accused each other of starting fighting along their shared border.

“Armenian troops attacked Azerbaijani positions in Kelbajar and Lachin districts,” Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that two Azerbaijani soldiers were injured.

The ministry said Azerbaijani troops “stopped the advance of the enemy, surrounded and detained Armenian soldiers.”

The country’s foreign ministry said Armenia “is deliberately raising tensions and is not interested in ensuring peace and security in the region.”

The Armenian Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani forces tried to “cross” the border before being pushed back.

Calls to Moscow

The European Union called on both sides to cease hostilities.

“Call for urgent de-escalation and a total ceasefire,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.

“Difficult situation in the region – the EU is committed to working with its partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus”, he added.

Armenia has called for allying with Russia to gain military support under the Collective Security Treaty Organization pact, which requires Moscow to protect it in the event of a foreign invasion.

“Since there has been an attack on the sovereign territory of Armenia, we call on the Russian Federation to protect the territorial integrity of Armenia,” said Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan.

Since last year’s war, Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported occasional exchanges of fire, raising fears of a further outbreak of their territorial dispute.

Armenia and Azerbaijan said the situation along their border remained tense with ongoing clashes on Tuesday evening.

On Sunday, they exchanged accusations of opening fire at their border near Karabakh.

The day before, the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities had said that the only road connecting Armenia to the separatist territory – the Lachin Corridor – had been briefly closed due to an incident between the two sides.

The Armenian ethnic separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh split from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the ensuing conflict left an estimated 30,000 dead.

(AFP)

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