YEREVAN — Heavy fighting reportedly broke out at a section of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan early on Thursday ahead of fresh talks between the leaders of the two South Caucasus states.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani forces began shelling its positions near the border village of Sotk at 6 a.m. local time and four Armenian soldiers were wounded as a result. Armenian army units are taking “appropriate defensive-preventive measures” in response, a ministry spokesman said, adding that the fighting continued as of 9 a.m.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said that Armenian troops seriously wounded an Azerbaijani soldier before opening mortar fire at Azerbaijani army positions in the mountainous area.

Tensions in the area have run high for the past month. Armenia’s largest gold mine located near Sotk halted production operations in mid-April due to what its management and workers described as cross-border Azerbaijani gunfire. The village sustained heavy damage during more large-scale clashes that broke out at this and other border sections last September.

The latest escalation came just three days before talks between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev which European Council President Charles Michel is due to host in Brussels.

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