Monday, April 22, 2024

Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of border shelling

Azerbaijani and Armenian forces shelled each other’s positions on the border area early on Thursday. Baku says one Azer soldier was killed in clashes, with the two sides accusing each other of starting the shelling.

Armenia claimed that Azerbaijani military launched an artillery and mortar attack on its servicemen near the village of Sotk around 6:00am local time (2:00am GMT).

The shelling continued for several hours and wounded at least three Armenian troops, the country’s defense ministry said, adding that it would report on their condition later. It also accused Azerbaijan of targeting an ambulance as it was evacuating one of the injured soldiers.

“The units of the Armenian Armed Forces are taking appropriate preventive and defense measures” in response to the actions by the neighboring country, the ministry said.

The situation in other areas along the border between the two former Soviet republics remains “stable,” it added.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry has rejected as misinformation Armenian reports about an attack by Azerbaijani army units on an ambulance vehicle carrying an Armenian serviceman.

Baku has insisted that it was responding to an attack by Armenian forces late on Wednesday. Yerevan has rejected this claim.

Mortar and artillery fire continued from the other side of the border on Thursday morning, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, adding that it was performing “the needed countermeasures.”

Armenia has carried out “a deliberate provocation” and has “once again violated the ceasefire,” the ministry insisted.

Despite the flareup, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he still intends to travel to Brussels on Sunday for talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. However, he made it clear that the possibility of a peace deal being signed during the meeting was “very low” as the draft treaty still needs work.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in a decades-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population, which declared independence from Baku in the early 1990s. In 2020, the two neighbors fought a 44-day war for control of the area, which concluded in a truce brokered and monitored by Russia.

However, tensions have still remained high between Yerevan and Baku, resulting in sporadic border incidents. The most intense flare-up occurred last September, when clashes led to dozens of casualties on both sides.

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