Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of injuring soldier in shootout incident

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Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Tuesday of injuring one of its soldiers in a shootout, the latest incident between the Caucasus countries that fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year.

The Armenian army said its soldier suffered a “minor” injury and that two Azerbaijani troops were injured in the clash, which Baku denied.

The longstanding dispute for the control of the Armenian-populated region inside Azerbaijan escalated in September last year in an all-out war that claimed more than 6,500 lives.

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Hostilities ended in November with a Russian-brokered ceasefire under which Yerevan ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

The Armenian army Chief of Staff, Samvel Asatryan, told journalists Tuesday that “Azerbaijani forces opened fire near the village of Verin Zhorzha” in Armenia’s eastern district of Gegarkunik.

He did not report any deaths.

Baku denied the clash and suspected an internal incident between Armenian troops.

“Azerbaijani army units did not open fire. There are no injured among (Azerbaijani) servicemen. It could have been an incident between Armenian soldiers,” the defence ministry in Baku said in a statement.

Tensions between Baku and Yerevan have been running high since May, when Armenia accused Azerbaijan’s military of crossing its southern border to “lay siege” to a lake shared by the two countries.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the time asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for military support.

Moscow said it would help with the delimitation and demarcation of the neighbors’ borders.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed, and the ensuing conflict has claimed around 30,000 lives.

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