Five killed in new Azerbaijan-Armenia clash in Nagorno-Karabakh

Two Azerbaijani servicemen and three Armenian officials killed in an exchange of fire in the contested enclave.

An ethnic Armenian soldier looks through binoculars
Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in two wars in the past three decades [File: Artem Mikryukov/Reuters]

Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians have exchanged gunfire in Azerbaijan’s contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing at least five people.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said on Sunday two servicemen were killed after Azerbaijani troops stopped a convoy it suspected of carrying weapons from the region’s main town to outlying areas. It said the convoy had used an unauthorised road.

Armenia’s foreign ministry said three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed. The convoy had been carrying documents and a service pistol, it said, dismissing Azerbaijani allegations that weapons were being carried as “absurd”.

It said Azerbaijan’s version of events was a “provocation planned in advance and instructed by the top leadership”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in two wars in the more than 30 years both ex-Soviet states have been independent.

The fighting for the control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave of Karabakh has claimed thousands of lives.

A fragile truce has been in force between the neighbours since a 2020 war that left more than 6,500 dead and forced Armenia to cede territories it had controlled for decades.

Since mid-December, a group of self-styled Azerbaijani environmental activists has barred the only road linking Karabakh to Armenia, the Lachin corridor, to protest against what they say is illegal mining.

Yerevan has accused Baku of creating a blockade there.

Pro-Armenian separatist authorities blamed Sunday’s fire exchange on “a sabotage group of the Azerbaijani armed forces” that “opened fire on the car of a Passport and Visa Department of the police.”

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said the incident “once again shows that Azerbaijan needs to create an appropriate checkpoint on the Lachin-Khankendi road”.

Armenia’s foreign ministry said “sending an international fact-finding team to the Lachin corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming a vital necessity”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies