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Armenian Soldier Wounded In Skirmish Along Border With Azerbaijan


The skirmish occurred in the Sotk area in Armenia's eastern Gegharkunik Province.

An Armenian serviceman was wounded in a skirmish along the border with Azerbaijan, the Armenia Defense Ministry said on August 17, a day after Armenia said two of its soldiers were killed as tensions continue to simmer after last year's war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Armenian soldier was wounded when Azerbaijani forces opened fire on Armenian positions in the Sotk area in eastern Gegharkunik Province, the ministry said, adding that one Azerbaijani was killed and one was wounded "as a result of the counteractions carried out by the Armenian side."

Baku denied suffering any military casualties.

Armenia has blamed a string of recent incidents on Azerbaijan, which in turn has claimed that the Armenian side is responsible for starting the flare-ups.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on August 17 that Armenian armed forces periodically fired on Azerbaijani Army positions in the Sadarak region of the Naxcivan exclave, in an incident in which two Armenian soldiers were killed the day before.

The Armenian side "was suppressed by retaliation fire," a ministry statement said.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned what it described as Azerbaijan's "provocative actions" on the border.

It said the actions had been "accompanied by the threats of the Azerbaijani top leadership toward the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia and use of force against Artsakh," the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh.

The statement was an apparent reference to claims by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev about "historical Azeri lands" in the territory of modern-day Armenia that he made during his visit to the Kelbajar district on August 16.

Kelbajar is one of the districts around Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenian forces withdrew from after a Russian-brokered cease-fire put an end to six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan last fall in which nearly 7,000 people.

Under the Russian-brokered deal, a chunk of Nagorno-Karabakh and all seven districts around it were placed under Azerbaijani administration.

Aliyev said during his visit to Kelbajar that Azerbaijanis who lived in the provinces in Soviet times and were displaced in fighting nearly three decades years ago were entitled to return and live in the "lands of their ancestors."

Representatives of two opposition factions in the Armenian parliament on August 17 raised concerns over the situation at the border during a special session called to discuss a separate matter.

Seyran Ohanian, the head of the opposition Hayastan faction, urged the government to take a stand, claiming that Azerbaijan takes Yerevan's silence as a sign of weakness.

He said the border situation should be discussed because it is "necessary to dispel any fears that our people have, as our authorities seem to have stopped dealing with this situation."

Hayk Konjorian, the head of the majority Civil Contract faction, said faction members did not address the opposition proposal when they held a closed-door discussion on August 17. But the opposition and ruling party agreed to discuss it during a closed-door meeting on August 18.

Pro-government lawmakers did not comment on Ohanian’s proposal or respond to Aliyev’s recent statements about the Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces of Armenia.

The Syunik, Gegharkunik, and Ararat regions bordering on Azerbaijan have been the locations of border fighting in recent days.

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