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Yerevan Claim That Armenian Soldier Was Killed By Azerbaijani Forces Is Denied By Baku

Azerbaijani soldiers on patrol at a checkpoint in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. (file photo)

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan's armed forces of killing one of its soldiers along the countries' border just days after the two South Caucasus nations engaged in the worst fighting since they fought a 44-day war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region a year ago.

Armenia's Defense Ministry said that a 19-year-old soldier was killed on the evening of November 22 when Azerbaijani troops opened fire for about an hour on Armenian forces positioned in Gegharkunik Province along the two countries’ border.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry denied the accusation, saying in a statement that "our units did not open fire in that direction, the situation is stable.”

The incident comes less than a week after each side took heavy casualties in fighting along the disputed border, for which each side blamed the other.

Azerbaijan reported that seven of its soldiers were killed in the November 16 clashes, while Yerevan said six of its troops were killed in the fighting.

The situation along the border has been tense since the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in September-November 2020, in which at least 6,500 people were killed.

The conflict ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire that granted Baku control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories occupied by Armenians. Some 2,000 Russian troops were deployed in the area as part of the truce accord.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia following a separatist war in 1994.

The November 16 fighting triggered renewed international calls for the two neighbors to engage in a process of delimiting and demarcating their Soviet-era border.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has announced that Yerevan received proposals from Moscow outlining the "preparatory stage" of the process, and said that the proposed border changes were acceptable to Yerevan.

Azerbaijan has not commented on the reported Russian proposal.

The contents of the proposal have not been made public, but the idea of possible changes to the border have led to protests by Armenian opposition groups that fear Yerevan will concede too much following its defeat in last year's bloody war with Azerbaijan.

On November 22, a number of mostly fringe opposition groups demonstrated in Yerevan to express their concerns and to demand that the government reveal details about any upcoming negotiations.

Protesters said they believe the proposal could harm Armenia's interests and, in particular, could lead to Yerevan recognizing that the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan.

The Armenian government has not responded to the protesters' demands. Pashinian's office, however, said he would answer questions on the subject during a Facebook Live session on November 23.

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