Clash at Azerbaijan-Armenian border: At least 5 people killed

Five security personnel were killed in an apparent shootout between ethnic Armenian police in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani soldiers in the breakaway region, authorities on both sides said.

Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians exchanged gunfire on Sunday in Azerbaijan’s contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing at least five people, according to reports from Azerbaijan and Armenia.

According to shared information by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, the shootout occurred when soldiers went to check vehicles suspected of transporting weapons. Armenia said the Azerbaijani armed forces opened fire on the car of a Passport and Visa Department of the police.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said two servicemen were killed in an exchange of fire after Azerbaijani troops stopped a convoy it suspected of carrying weapons from the region’s main town to outlying areas. It said the convoy had used an unauthorised road.

According to the Armenian press, three Armenian police officers also died in the clash.

Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, said on Twitter that he had returned to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku for talks on advancing the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, saying the latest incident underscores the need to make progress.

“Look forward to substantive meetings with Azerbaijan leadership to advance peace process after meetings in Munich. The deadly incident today underscores the urgency of pushing forward with negotiations to achieve stability & a fair peace,” Klaar said.

Earlier, a statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said it had received information about the transport of military equipment, ammunition and personnel from Armenia to the Karabakh region through the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turshsu road, where a Russian peacekeeping contingent has been temporarily stationed since the aftermath of the fall 2020 conflict in the region and a January 2021 pact with Baku and Yerevan.

“On the morning of March 5, in order to check the received information, an attempt was made to stop and check the vehicles carrying illegal military transports by units of the Azerbaijan Army. Shots were fired from the other side and there were casualties and injuries from both sides as a result of the skirmish,” the statement said.

The statement further said that Baku brought to the attention of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent that the fulfillment of the clauses of the Tripartite Declaration of November 2020 between Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia must be “unconditionally and fully ensured.”

Noting that the Lachin corridor is the only route that can be used to connect Armenia to the Karabakh region, the statement said it reminded the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent that the “implementation of military and other transportation on other routes is absolutely inadmissible.”

“We remind you that the facts of the transportation of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment, including mines, fuel and manpower from Armenia to the Karabakh region have been established before.

“The Azerbaijani side has repeatedly warned the international community about the transportation of mines along the mentioned route,” it noted.

The shooting showed that Azerbaijan needs to establish a checkpoint on the Lachin corridor, it said, adding: “The fact that Armenia is still carrying out military transports to the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan is the country’s continued aggression and terrorist policy against Azerbaijan. All responsibility for the provocation lies with the military and political leadership of Armenia.”

A statement later by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry also called for the implementation of the Tripartite Declaration, further noting that the skirmish demonstrates that “Armenia’s views on the peace agenda are nothing but hypocrisy, and that Armenia is not interested in establishing peace and security in the region.”

Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.

Anadolu Agency


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