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Azerbaijani Drone Reportedly Downed Over Nagorno-Karabakh

Wreckage of what Karabakh-Armenian forces say was an Azerbaijani drone shot down on September 12.

Wreckage of what Karabakh-Armenian forces say was an Azerbaijani drone shot down on September 12.

YEREVAN -- Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenian armed forces say they shot down an Azerbaijani unmanned military aircraft flying a reconnaissance mission over the breakaway region, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Karabakh Defense Army said in a statement that the drone was downed in Karabakh's eastern Martuni district on September 12 as a result of "special measures" taken by its antiaircraft units.

"Fragments of the destroyed aircraft are at the disposal of the Defense Army's relevant services," the statement said. "A commission has been set up to examine details of the incident and an investigation is under way."

The Karabakh-Armenian army also released several pictures of what it described as wreckage of the drone.

Armenia's Defense Ministry confirmed the information about the downed drone. There was no immediate official reaction from Azerbaijan.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have previously not claimed to have shot down air targets since a May 1994 truce that halted their bitter war for Karabakh. The reported downing of an Azerbaijan unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could therefore add to growing fears of renewed large-scale fighting between the two sides.

The Karabakh statement said the Azerbaijani Air Force had been engaged in "visible activity" along the Armenian-Azerbaijani "line of contact" lately.

"In recent days, the enemy's unmanned aircraft have carried out, with fairly large frequency, reconnaissance flights along the entire length of the border zone and, in some cases, violated [Karabakh's] airspace," it claimed, adding that Karabakh air-defense forces had taken "adequate steps" in response.

Azerbaijan is known to have UAVs, most of them reportedly purchased from Israel. A joint venture set up by the Azerbaijani government and the Israel Aerospace Industries company began assembling Israeli-designed drones in Azerbaijan in March.

Armenia officially announced in June that it was also manufacturing UAVs. Colonel Armen Mkrtchian, deputy commander of the Armenian Air Force, said they were capable of "carrying out objectives deep inside enemy territory."

The drones apparently designed by Armenian engineers are expected to be put on display during a military parade in Yerevan scheduled for September 21.

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