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Three Azeri troops killed in clashes with Armenia over Karabakh: Azerbaijan

4 April 2016 13:16



Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of killing three of its servicemen in the border region of Nagorno Karabakh, as the two sides continue to clash for the control of the region.

The Azeri Defense Ministry said the three troopers were killed as the Armenians fired mortar shells at Azeri positions and attacked them using grenade launchers on Monday.

Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargahly warned that his country “will launch a full-scale operation along the entire front-line, using all kinds of weapons,” if Armenia continued its “provocations.”

Meanwhile, in a statement from their unrecognized capital, Stepanakert, in the disputed region, rebels accused Azeri troops of intensifying the “shelling of the Karabakh army positions on Monday morning, using 152-millimeter mortars, rocket-propelled artillery and tanks.”

Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said the rebels made major advances “at certain sectors of the front-line and took up new positions.”

But Azerbaijan dismissed the report as “untrue,” with the Azeri Defense Ministry saying that several key heights in Karabakh that had been seized by Azeri troopers on Saturday were still under their control.

Armenian servicemen of the self-defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh fire an artillery shell toward Azeri forces from their positions in the town of Martakert in Nagorno Karabakh, April 3, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The fighting between the two countries erupted last Friday, leaving at least 33 troops and two civilians dead.

On Sunday, Azerbaijan announced a “unilateral” ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill, warning, however, that it would strike back if its forces came under attack.

Bouts of fighting were reported soon afterwards.

The Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops since a three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives, ended between the two republics in 1994 through Russian mediation.

Last December, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the ceasefire deal reached in 1994 was no longer in place, saying the current situation amounted to “war.”

Although the two countries are divided by a buffer zone, both sides frequently accused one another of violating the ceasefire.

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