Azerbaijani soldier killed in Armenia border clashes
Armenian troops have allegedly killed an Azerbaijani soldier in new clashes in the restive border area of Nagorno-Karabakh.
A statement by Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Saturday that the soldier was killed as Armenian troops opened fire on Azerbaijan’s army positions.
“Armenia’s military and political leadership bears responsibility for the provocations along the frontline,” the statement by Baku said while warning Yerevan that the potential response to the provocation would be tough.
“From now on, our retaliatory measures will be even tougher,” the statement said.
Tensions have mounted between the two neighbors over the past months. At least 12 people have been killed and 18 wounded in a new spiral of violence since early January.
The decade-long conflict over the disputed region has yet to find a permanent settlement. The area which is inhabited by ethnic Armenians is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The deadly war in the 1990s which killed 30,000 people from both sides saw the ethnic Armenian troops capture the entire area.
In 1994, Russia brokered a ceasefire although the Armenians remain in control of most of the enclave. The two countries have since been engaged in peace talks which are mediated by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Azerbaijani officials further claimed Saturday that Armenians have violated the ceasefire “32 times in numerous positions in the last 24 hours.” The Trend news agency quoted a statement by the Defense Ministry as saying that the attacks ended after Azerbaijani forces returned fire.
Baku, whose military spending is much higher than Yerevan, has threatened to recapture the region by force. Armenia, backed by Russia, has downplayed the threats, saying it can appropriately respond to any offensive.