YEREVAN — Three Armenian soldiers were killed and three others wounded in heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces that broke out along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border early on Wednesday.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani forces attacked at dawn its positions in Gegharkunik province bordering the Kelbajar district in Azerbaijan.
According to the Ministry, on July 28, at about 03:40 am, Azerbaijani troops attacked Armenian positions located in the northeastern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border from Sotk to Verin Shorzha (Gegharkunik province) in an attempt to improve their strongpoints to create favorable conditions for advance.
‘The Armenian Armed Forces defend their positions, preventing the enemy from advancing. As of 08:30 Wednesday, the Armenian side had three killed servicemen and three more servicemen were wounded,’ the ministry said.
Another statement released by the ministry shortly afterwards said the Azerbaijani attacks were repelled by 9:20 a.m. “The exchange of gunfire is continuing,” it added.
Sources close to the Armenian military claimed that Azerbaijani troops initially seized one of its border posts in Gegharkunik. They said the post was recaptured by the Armenian side a couple of hours later.
The Defense Ministry published the names of three servicemen who were killed in the latest clashes with Azerbaijani troops. They are Senior Lieutenant Hayk Gevorgyan, privates Koryun Harutyunyan and David Kocharyan.
Later in the morning the two sides agreed, with Russian mediation, to stop the fighting that reportedly involved mortar fire.
“The agreement is largely respected at the moment,” the Defense Ministry in Yerevan reported at noon. It insisted that “no change in the line of contact occurred” as a result of the deadly clashes.
The latest fighting is one of the most serious armed incidents in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone since last fall’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire. The Armenian Defense Ministry said the Azerbaijani side provoked it ahead of “negotiations planned in Moscow.” It did not elaborate.
The Interfax news agency reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will host talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts later on Wednesday. Shoigu reportedly met with Armenia’s acting Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan in Moscow on Monday.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry accused Baku of deliberately heightening tensions on the border. It said Armenia will use all “military-political instruments” at its disposal to protect its territorial integrity.