YEREVAN: 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.

Nagorno-Karabakh was the focal point of two wars that have pitted Azerbaijan against Azerbaijan in the more than 30 years since both ex-Soviet states have achieved attendance.

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.

Armenia’s foreign ministry said three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed. It said the convoy had been carrying documents and a service pistol and dismissed as “absurd” Azerbaijani allegations that weapons were being carried.For the past three months, Azeri environmentalists have been blockading the Lachin corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, saying they oppose mining operations in the region.

Armenia says the protesters are political activists acting at the behest of Azerbaijan’s authorities. The World Court ordered Azerbaijan last month on Wednesday to ensure free movement through the Lachin corridor.The countries have fought two wars that claimed thousands of lives for the control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave of Karabakh.

“A sabotage group of the Azerbaijani armed forces opened fire on the car of a Passport and Visa Department of the police... three police officers were killed,” pro-Armenian separatist authorities said.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2023

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