Five killed in new Azerbaijan-Armenia clash over Karabakh
Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians engaged in a gun battle Sunday in Azerbaijan's disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, killing at least five people, according to reports from Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh was the focal point of two wars that have pitted Azerbaijan against Azerbaijan in the more than 30 years since both ex-Soviet states have achieved independence.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that two soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire after Azerbaijani troops stopped a convoy they suspected of transporting weapons from the region's capital to remote areas. They said the convoy had been using an unauthorized road.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, three officials of the Karabakh Interior Ministry were killed. It said the convoy was carrying documents and a service pistol and rejected as "absurd" Azerbaijani claims that weapons were being transported.
Nagorno-Karabakh has long been internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, although its population is predominantly ethnic Armenians.
Armenian forces took control of Karabakh in a war that gripped the region in the early 1990s as Soviet rule collapsed. Azerbaijan recaptured large parts of the territory in a six-week conflict in 2020 that ended with a cease-fire and the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, who remain in the region.
For the past three months, Azerbaijani environmentalists have been blockading the Lachin Corridor, which connects Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, speaking out against mining activities in the region.
Armenia claims the protesters are political activists acting at the behest of Azerbaijani authorities.
The World Court ordered Azerbaijan last month on Wednesday to ensure free movement through the Lachin corridor.