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Azerbaijanis Demand Armenians Return Soldier's Body

Mubariz Ibrahimov was killed in June
Mubariz Ibrahimov was killed in June
BAKU -- Dozens of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh war held a rally on August 4 in central Azerbaijan to demand that Armenian authorities return the body of an Azerbaijani soldier, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Mubariz Ibrahimov was killed during a firefight between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces near the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh on June 18-19.

Most of the people at the protest, which was held in the Bilusavar district, are from the Agdam district that borders Karabakh.

Mahammad Aslanov, head of the Agdam Regional Youth Office, told RFE/RL that protesters carried national flags, pictures of Ibrahimov, and signs saying "We are all Mubariz!"

An Azerbaijani Defense Ministry press release said "Mubariz Ibrahimov died while fighting back against Armenian soldiers in the Chayli village of the Terter region. The Armenian side took Mubariz Ibrahimov's body and has not returned it. Azerbaijan continues its efforts to have the body of national hero Mubariz Ibrahimov returned by the Armenian side."

But Armenia claims Ibrahimov was shot dead in Armenian-controlled territory. Both Armenian and Karabakh officials say that proves that the fighting -- which also left four Armenian soldiers dead -- was provoked by Azerbaijani forces.

The Azerbaijani authorities have asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to mediate in getting Ibrahimov's body returned.

Ilaha Huseynova from the ICRC office in Baku told RFE/RL they have relayed to Yerevan the Azerbaijani request to hand over Ibrahimov's body and it is up to the two sides to reach an agreement.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has bestowed the title of "national hero" on Ibrahimov. He has also ordered that a school and a street be named after Ibrahimov in Bilasuvar, his native district.