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Reports Of Shelling As Tensions Between Armenia And Azerbaijan Appear To Boil Over

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An Armenian solider mans an outpost on his country's border with Azerbaijan. (file photo)

Azerbaijan and Armenia have accused each other of violating a cease-fire along their shared border as lingering tensions following their war last year over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh appeared to boil over.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement on December 9 that Armenian military units fired on the positions of the Azerbaijani Army in the Kalbacar district.

The accusation came hours after the ministry said separately that one of its soldiers "was killed overnight as a result of a provocation by Armenia's armed forces" near the countries' shared border.

The Armenian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said in a statement on December 9 that two of its soldiers were wounded after Azerbaijani armed forces "opened intensive fire from firearms of different calibers" at Armenian military positions in the Gegharkunik region.

The shooting stopped as of 6 p.m. local time, the ministry said.

A day earlier, it said Azerbaijani forces had opened fire on its positions in an eastern region of their shared border.

The reports of shelling could not be independently verified.

Tensions have simmered for years over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku's control in the early 1990s.

A six-week war erupted in autumn last year, claiming more than 6,500 lives.

The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire under which Armenians ceded territories they had controlled for decades to Azerbaijan. Border tensions have since remained high with the worst renewed deadly fighting taking place last month.

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Moscow will host an inaugural meeting of a six-way South Caucasus peace platform on December 10, an idea proposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan following last year's Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on December 9.

The peace platform -- including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, and Turkey -- was proposed by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the cease-fire.

Ankara, which has no diplomatic ties with Armenia, has said the platform may help normalize ties with Yerevan.

"The first meeting of the regional cooperation platform in the 3+3 format proposed...for the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus will be held in Moscow on December 10," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

It said Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Iran, and Turkey will be represented at the level of deputy foreign ministers, but did not elaborate on Georgia's participation.

Armenia and Turkey signed a landmark peace accord in 2009 to restore ties and open their shared border after decades, but the deal was never ratified and ties have remained tense.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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