BAKU/YEREVAN Five Azeri troopers have been killed in clashes with Armenia-backed separatists alongside the boundary with the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry explained on Monday, with each side accusing the other of an tried incursion.
Clashes above regulate of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies inside of Azerbaijan but it is controlled by ethnic Armenians, have stoked fears of a wider conflict breaking out in the South Caucasus, which is crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines.
The Azeri defense ministry explained that clashes transpired in the early hours of Saturday, in the remote Khojavend and Fizuli regions and that separatists have been still avoiding evacuation of five dead Azeri troopers from the no-man’s land.
“Evacuation of bodies did not acquire put because the Azeri side violated agreements,” the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists explained in a assertion.
The breakaway region’s self-declared defense ministry accused the Azeri navy of trying to infiltrate its territory and explained there have been no casualties on their side.
Intercontinental mediators from the OSCE Minsk Group termed on the two sides “to retain weighty navy equipment in its present positions and to permit restoration of the dead.”
Battling involving ethnic Azeris and Armenians initial erupted in 1991 and a ceasefire was agreed in 1994. But Azerbaijan and Armenia have consistently traded accusations of violence about Nagorno-Karabakh and alongside the Azeri-Armenian border.
The ceasefire was broken last April when dozens have been killed. Efforts to secure a long-lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have failed irrespective of mediation led by France, Russia and the United States.
(Reporting by Nailia Bagirova and Hasmik Mkrtchyan further reporting and crafting by Margarita Antidze Enhancing by Aleksandar Vasovic and Dominic Evans)