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Armenia says three troops dead in clashes with Azerbaijan

Google Oneindia News

Armenia's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that three of its troops had been killed in clashes with Azerbaijan's military in what is one of the deadliest incidents over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh since a six-week conflict ended last November.

Armenia says three troops dead in clashes with Azerbaijan

"As a result of armed action launched following an attack by Azerbaijani forces, there are three dead and two wounded from the Armenian side as of 08:30 (0430 GMT)," the ministry said in a statement.

Armenia's Foreign Ministry added, "the Azerbaijani side is deliberately escalating the situation as its forces remain illegally on Armenia's sovereign territory."

What has Azerbaijan said?

The Azeri government rejected Armenia's account.

Its Defense Ministry accused Armenia of a military provocation, saying Armenian forces opened fire towards Azerbaijani positions in the district of Kelbajar in the early hours of Wednesday.

"Armenia bears full responsibility for the escalation of tensions along the two countries' shared border," it said, adding that two Azeri soldiers had been wounded.

What happened last year?

A six-week war between between the two nations last autumn left some 6,500 people dead.

The conflict ended in November with a Russian-brokered cease-fire under which Armenia ceded territories it had controlled for decades.

Prisoner swaps also took place as part of the deal.

Tensions between Baku and Yerevan flared up again in May, when Armenia accused Azerbaijan's military of crossing its southern frontier to "lay siege" to a lake shared by the two countries.

There have been sporadic clashes in recent months, sparking fears of fresh fighting.

What is the background to the conflict?

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its population is majority Armenian.

It has mostly been governed by a separatist, self-declared republic, run by ethnic Armenians and backed by the Armenian government.

Separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh voted to break away from Azerbaijan in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union collapsed, and the ensuing conflict has claimed around 30,000 lives.

Source: DW

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