Azerbaijani forces opened fire at Armenian positions near the Sotk village in Armenia’s Syunik Province killing four Armenian soldiers and injuring six others. Reports indicated that there are casualties on the Azerbaijani side.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported that around 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Azerbaijani forces opened fire at Armenian soldiers who were on a routine engineering duty. After Armenian soldiers retaliated a more aggressive attack followed at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Tuesday’s attack also impacted the Sotk Gold mine, where workers were evacuated and all operations there were halted, according to Ruzanna Grigoryan, a mine representative who spoke to Armenpress.
Shortly after the attack, Azerbaijani media reports blamed Armenian forces for the incident and claimed that Iranian weapons were being used. Armenia’s Defense Ministry denied those reports, which also aimed at rattling Tehran, whose relations with Baku are currently tense.
Yerevan was quick to condemn this latest Azerbaijani aggression, with Armenia’s Foreign Ministry calling it an “encroachment” on Armenia’s territorial integrity.
“These aggressive actions by the Azerbaijani side were carried out despite willingness by the Armenian side to resolve the problems on the ground through constructive negotiations,” said the foreign ministry.
“The provocation is another encroachment by Azerbaijan against the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. Such a policy by Azerbaijan is not new, it is the continuation of the attacks carried out in May and November 2021, as well as September 2022, as a result of which Azerbaijan occupied the sovereign territories of Armenia,” emphasized the foreign ministry.
“It should be documented that the use and threat of force are an integral part of Azerbaijan’s policy and are aimed at significantly destabilizing the situation in the region and undermine the efforts of mediation partners to continue the peace process,” said the foreign ministry.
“We call on the international community and all partners interested in peace and stability in the region to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggressive actions through targeted statements and clear steps and prevent the latter from further escalating the situation,” the foreign ministry concluded.
Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan cut short his trip to Brussels, where he also toured NATO’s European headquarters, and returned to Armenia following Tuesday’s attacks.
The latest attacks against Armenian forces came a day after Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said that his government continued to be committed to the peace process with Armenia.
“We are determined to normalize these relations, and after the second Karabakh war it was Azerbaijan that proposed to start working on a peace treaty. This work has practically started, but it is not going as smoothly as we would like it to. But there is no alternative to it,” Aliyev was quoted as saying while visiting Kazakhstan on Monday.