BAKU: Azerbaijan and Armenia reported clashes on their volatile border on Tuesday that killed one Azeri soldier and two Armenian troops, in the latest skirmish following a 2020 war between the ex-Soviet rivals.

The two Caucasus countries clashed in late 2020 for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, leaving more than 6,000 dead in a matter of weeks.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said the soldier died as a result of a “provocation” by Armenian troops and that “all responsibility for tension lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia”.

The ministry said its forces had “suppressed” the enemy following the incident in the Kalbajar area on the border.

Armenia said that two of its soldiers had also been killed, denouncing what it described as the Azeri army’s “provocative actions”.

Yerevan earlier said Azerbaijan had deployed drones and artillery against its troops in a region on the country’s eastern border.

The Kalbajar district was one of several Armenia ceded to Azerbaijan as part of a ceasefire agreement that was brokered by Moscow.

The death follows claims from Armenian-supported separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this week that Azerbaijani forces opened fire in a village in the region, damaging a car parked near a school.

Defence officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said Russian peacekeepers deployed to the disputed mountainous region had been alerted to the firing, which Azerbaijan’s defence ministry denied had taken place.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the ensuing war claimed around 30,000 lives. The conflict remained largely frozen until the 2020 war.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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