OSCE Reps. Attest to Azeri Cease Fire Violations

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan/Azg)–An official statement released by the Foreign Ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh–Wednesday–stated that the Azeri media accused Karabakh of opening fire Tuesday on the OSCE delegation monitoring the front line between Azeri and Karabakh armed forces–accusing Karabakh of wounding one Azeri soldier.

The statement recalling an earlier Foreign Ministry statement which quoted Byron Lauritsen and Miroslav Khokhacek–confirmed that the gun fire came from the Azeri side and that one Karabakh official was wounded.

"Our Minister Naira Melkumian received a telegram from OSCE special envoy Andrei Kasprczik–who was monitoring the front line on the Azeri side–in which he expressed his regret over the incident–saying that he was concerned about the wounded [Karabakh] officer and his family," read the statement.

In a Wednesday meeting with Chief of Press and Information Department Zhanna Krikorova–special envoys of OSCE Chairmen Lauritsen and Khokhalcek reiterated that both Karabakh and Azerbaijan had been both notified–as early as Feb. 3–of the OSCE monitoring of the front line.

The two said they’d been in constant communication with the OSCE inspectors monitoring the Azeri side and were also waving a white OSCE flag. Despite all that–at 12:44 p.m. local time–at the Kouropatkino village of the Martuni region–the Azeri side fired several shots and wounded a Karabakh officer. The officer needed immediate medial attention and was transported to the Martuni hospital.

Khokhalcek observed that the incident could be viewed as a cease-fire violation by the Azeri side; however–it is the OSCE that has to decide on whether to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan. He also categorized it as–at least–inadmissible to shoot at a mission working under a white flag.

Lauritsen noted that Karabakh had not retaliated. "When I asked the soldiers why they didn’t return fire–they told me that their commander hadn’t given them any such order," Lauritsen said.

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