Accessibility links

Breaking News

Azerbaijan: Soldier Killed In Karabakh Skirmish

YEREVAN -- One Azerbaijani soldier has been killed and two Armenian conscripts wounded recently in skirmishes at the Armenian-Azerbaijani "line of contact" around the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Mamed Azadaliyev, 21, was shot dead on January 17 just northeast of the disputed territory, Trend news agency reported. The ministry said Azerbaijani troops deployed there came under fire from Armenian positions before "silencing the enemy."

The area where Azadaliyev was killed has been the most volatile section of the front line over the past year. More than a dozen soldiers from both sides have been killed since June.

There was no immediate reaction to the Azerbaijani report from the Armenian side.

Military authorities in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh reported earlier in the day that two Karabakh Armenian soldiers were wounded at other front-line sections on January 14. They said both men required hospitalization.

One of the servicemen, Vartan Harutiunian, remained in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in Stepanakert on January 17.

The Armenian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of deliberately breaking the cease-fire to scuttle international efforts to resolve the Karabakh dispute. Ministry spokesman Davit Karapetian said Baku is using the incidents to try to "boost morale" in the Azerbaijani military.

Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Teymur Abdullayev dismissed those claims and blamed the Armenians for the truce violations.

"The Azerbaijani side is committed to observing the cease-fire on the front line," he told Trend.

Former Armenian Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian, an opposition politician, said on January 17 that preventing renewed fighting will be the Armenian government's No. 1 challenge this year.

"We already went down that path once," Arzoumanian said. "We already proved on the battlefield the Nagorno-Karabakh people's right to live in freedom. They won their independence, and all we have to do now is to get into various diplomatic processes and skillfully find some solution."

Arzoumanian was skeptical about near-term prospects of a breakthrough in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He said the governments of Russia and the United States, the main mediating powers, will be increasingly distracted by preparations for domestic presidential elections in 2012.