At least 15 men have been killed and three injured in a fire that broke at a military unit in Azat village in Armenia’s eastern province of Gegharkunik.
“According to preliminary data, 15 servicemen were killed as a result of the fire that broke out in the barracks of an engineer and sniper company of a military unit,” read a statement from the Ministry of Defense released on Thursday. It added that the three wounded men were in serious condition.
The blaze broke out at 1:30am (9.30 GMT) on Thursday “under circumstances that have yet to be determined”, the ministry said.
The incident follows a blast which took place in August last year when at least 16 people died and about 60 were injured. The explosion ripped through a warehouse in a market in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
Azat lies near the border with Azerbaijan, a country that was at war with Armenia in 2020 over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani but it is populated and controlled by its ethnic Armenian majority.
The six-week conflict killed at least 6,500 people and ended with a Russian-brokered truce. Armenia ceded a swath of territory it had controlled for decades in a move that sparked a political crisis.
While the large-scale fighting is over, renewed border clashes keep occurring. In September last year, dozens of Armenian soldiers were reportedly killed.
Tensions between the two former Soviet republics flared up again in recent weeks as Azerbaijani civilians who say they are environmental activists have protested along the Lachin Corridor, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Yerevan has called the action an Azerbaijani government-endorsed blockade.