Armenian Azeri Border Clashes Escalate

BAKU (Reuter)–Azerbaijan and Armenia Monday traded accusations of new cross-border attacks–the worst outburst of violence between the Transcaucasus neighbors and foes in nearly three years.

The Azeri Defense Ministry said Armenian troops had shelled Azeri positions on the northwestern part of the border late on Sunday. "The fire from light weapons continued for 10 minutes before Azeri forces returned fire and silenced the adversary," a ministry statement said.

Quoting a military source in the Azeri capital Baku–it said Armenian troops had shelled Azeri positions in the Kazakh and Tauz districts in the northern part of the border and also in the Agdzhabedi district east of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The source said 50 people had died or been wounded in such clashes over the last two days–adding that Armenia’s losses were "several times higher than Azerbaijan’s."

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted the Armenian Defense Ministry as denying there had been unprovoked attacks along the heavily fortified frontier and accusing the Azeris of launching cross-border attacks.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said Azeris shelled Armenian positions for an hour and a half Sunday. It said clashes also took place at the weekend along the southern sector of the border.

Some news agencies report that since last Thursday Armenia has allegedly violated cease-fire several times in different sections of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

Deputy Chief of the Information and Press Department of Armenia’s Defense Ministry Hovhannes Charkhchian commented on the reports–"All these reports do not correspond to the real state of affairs and are completely false. In reality the situation is that over the last 20 days Azeri armed units have shelled Armenian villages and defensives 32 times."

Speaking of the latest border incidents–Charkhchian reported that early Saturday Azeri armed units shelled the defensives of Vazashen in Armenia’s Tavoush region. Last Thrusday from 5:45p.m. to 9:25p.m. Azeri forces–using mortars–large-caliber machine-guns and other arms–shelled the village of Paravakar in the same region. Two civilians were wounded. No deaths were reported.

According to a report by Armenpress–a telephone conversation between Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his Azeri counterpart Gaidar Aliyev was held Thursday.

Ter-Petrosyan’s press service reported that the sides had been concerned by recent incidents at the Armenian-Azeri border.

The two officials decided to order their respective defense ministries to strictly obey the cease fire.

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