Fresh Firefight Reported on Armenian Azeri Border

MKR (AFP)–Azerbaijan on Wednesday accused Armenian forces of firing on its troops–but Armenia’said the attack came from the Azeri side first.

The incident was the latest in a series of firefights between forces of the two former Soviet republics in recent months that have claimed several lives and left the decade-old cease-fire between the two sides strained.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could not confirm who started the firefight early Tuesday–but Armenian officials said that the Armenian side did not fire first.

"The fire came from the Azeri district of Tovuz–near the Armenian border–when monitors from both sides were checking on the cease-fire," an Armenian defense ministry official told AFP.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said the clash took place near the village of Agdam in the Tovuz region of north-western Azerbaijan. It said Azeri troops returned fire and suffered no casualties.

OSCE’s special envoy to Karabagh Andrzej Kasprzyk–who was in the area for a routine inspection of the cease-fire line–cut short his visit because of the shooting–the statement said.

Meanwhile–Azerbaijan’s prime minister Ilham Aliyev declared that official Baku is looking forward to restoring Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the nearest future.

The Azerbaijani Echo newspaper reported Ilham Aliyev as saying the territorial integrity of the country should be restored and "the occupants should leave Azeri lands. . . Only after that we could speak of a peaceful agreement. This is our main principle and we will stick to it," said Aliyev.

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