STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—An Azerbaijani soldier killed along the Nagorno-Karabakh line-of-contact Tuesday was likely the victim of friendly fire within his ranks, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Defense Ministry implied on Wednesday, denying reports from the Azeri media and military that Armenian soldiers soldiers shot and killed the Azeri servicemen.
A spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry was quoted by the Trend news agency on Tuesday saying that 25-year-old soldier, Zamin Mammadov, was shot dead at a frontline section in the Aghdam district, RFE/RL reported.
“This is regular misinformation spread by Azerbaijani media and does not correspond to reality,” Defense Ministry spokesman Senor Hasratyan said, adding that Karabakh forces have been maintaining the ceasefire in Aghdam as well as across the entire line-of-contact separating Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
According to RFE/RL, the Azeri official, Teymur Abdullayev, accused the Karabakh military of violating the ceasefire regime in that area. Another Azerbaijani serviceman was reportedly shot dead just northeast of Karabakh on January 17.
Hasratyan said the reports are indicative of efforts by the Azeri Defense Ministry to blame Karabakh for a “disgraceful phenomena in the Azeri army.”
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Army said on Saturday that there has been an “unprecedented” increase in Azerbaijani gunfire at its frontline positions. A Karabakh Armenian soldier was killed last Thursday in what it described as an “intensive shootout.”
Deadly skirmishes along the line of contact appear to have become more frequent over the past year amid a lack of decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks and Baku’s regular threats to solve the conflict by force.