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13 Feb, 2024 11:36

Four Armenians reportedly killed in border clashes with Azerbaijan

Moscow has called on the rivals to maintain calm and avoid engaging in provocations
Four Armenians reportedly killed in border clashes with Azerbaijan

Four Armenian troops were reportedly killed overnight when the Azerbaijani military targeted a border outpost; another was injured. Baku claimed to be retaliating following a provocation by its neighbor.

The escalation of violence is the latest clash between the two rival post-Soviet states. Moscow on Tuesday called the development “concerning” and urged both sides to avoid any steps that could be perceived as provocative by the other.

The confrontation was supposedly triggered by an incident on Monday night, in which Azerbaijani forces allegedly came under small arms fire. The Defense Ministry said that the attack came from Armenian troops, but its counterpart on the other side said the claim was false.

Nevertheless, Baku launched what its border guard service called a “revenge operation” against Armenian positions near the village of Nerkin Hand in Syunik Province. Azerbaijanis claim the targeted outpost was “destroyed.”

The hostilities lasted until around 9:30pm, according to the Armenian account. Yerevan provided the casualty count in the morning and said it will be releasing the list of killed citizens later in the day.

Edmon Marukyan, Armenia’s ambassador-at-large, claimed that Baku’s decision to retaliate instead of giving Yerevan time to investigate its allegation proved that the claims were only a pretext and part of a larger pattern.

”The international community must condemn this chain of vile, unprovoked actions carried out by Azerbaijan,” he said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The two nations have engaged in a series of bloody clashes since gaining independence, both in direct cross-border clashes and indirectly, in the struggle to control the now-defunct self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The last major direct confrontation took place in September 2022 and left dozens of troops killed on both sides in two days; sporadic flare-ups continued for over a week.

The escalation triggered a diplomatic row between Yerevan and Moscow, its traditional military ally. Armenia wanted Russia and the other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional mutual defense organization, to send troops to fight Azerbaijan.

The CSTO opted for a diplomatic intervention to deflate hostilities and later deployed an observer mission to Armenia, which Yerevan claimed to be insufficient.

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