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Azerbaijan Says Member Of Armenian 'Saboteur' Group Detained; Yerevan Rejects Claim


Azerbaijani military trucks move through the town of Lacin on December 1.

Azerbaijan says its military has detained an Armenian soldier who it claims is a member of an Armenian Army sabotage unit, an accusation that Armenia rejected, saying one of its soldiers wandered by mistake into Azerbaijani-controlled territory because of fog.

In a June 8 statement, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said an Armenian soldier, identified as Artur Kartanian, was detained in the Lacin district while he and other alleged members of a group of Armenian military were trying to plant mines on Azerbaijani territory near the border with Armenia.

The statement said the other members of the group managed to flee.

The Armenian Defense Ministry rejected the Azerbaijani statement, saying the soldier -- whom they identified as Artur Katanian --"lost his way due to the fog and ended up in the territory controlled by the Azerbaijani armed forces."

"The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry statement saying that Katanian is a saboteur is not true," the Armenian Defense Ministry statement said.

Lacin is one of the districts that Azerbaijan managed to retake following last year's military conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts.

Six weeks of fighting ended with a Moscow-brokered cease-fire in November as Baku regained control over some parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and all seven adjacent districts.

In recent weeks, the two sides have blamed each other for a number of incidents along their border, putting pressure on the cease-fire in the run-up to Armenia’s snap parliamentary elections on June 20.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the ethnic Armenians who make up most of the region's population reject Azerbaijani rule.

Ethnic Armenian troops forced some 750,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis from areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in a 1990s war, which claimed the lives of some 30,000 people, and ended in a cease-fire in 1994.

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