New flare-up in Karabakh dispute kills 3 Armenian soldiers
Three Armenian soldiers have been killed in a cross-border exchange of fire with Azeri forces in Karabakh, where a truce has been in place between the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan since November last year.
According to reports, Armenia's Defense Ministry said that as of 8:30 am (0430 GMT) Wednesday, three Armenian soldiers had been killed and two wounded in an exchange of fire that started in the early hours of the day.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry blamed Azerbaijan for the flare-up. "The Azerbaijani side is deliberately escalating the situation as its forces remain illegally on Armenia's sovereign territory," it said.
In response, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said that troops had responded to what it called "provocations" initiated by the Armenian side against Azeri positions in Kalbajar. It said two Azerbaijani servicemen had been wounded.
"Armenia bears full responsibility for the escalation of tensions," Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said in its statement.
It added that Azerbaijan had agreed to resume the ceasefire from 10:00 am local time (0600 GMT), but that Armenian forces had continued shelling its positions with tanks and mortars.
Still, the Russian Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday that the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides had both agreed to resume the ceasefire.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a deadly war over the Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts for six weeks from late September to early November last year. Russian mediation ended that war, and a ceasefire was in effect until the Wednesday conflagration, which ignited concerns about a potential resumption of armed conflict.
Over 5,000 Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers had been killed or gone missing by the time the war ended last year.