Armenia

Azerbaijani Soldier Arrested After Crossing Line of Contact in Syunik

YEREVAN — An Azerbaijani soldier was detained early on Wednesday after crossing into Armenia at the border area of Tegh community, Syunik Province. The soldier was armed with an AKM-type assault rifle and a magazine of bullets.

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) reported the incident, stating that Ministry of Defense servicemen neutralized the Azerbaijani soldier. It said it has launched an investigation into the incident.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, meanwhile, that the soldier, identified as Ruslan Panahov, lost his way and went missing due to bad weather while moving between Azerbaijani army posts in the Lachin district bordering Tegh and other parts of Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province.

A member of Tegh’s local council, Argam Hovsepyan, claimed that Panahov crossed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the area together with another Azerbaijani soldier. The latter “ran away” after being spotted by Armenian servicemen, Hovsepyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Hovsepyan speculated that the soldiers may have argued with their comrades before deserting their unit. He said some village residents heard angry shouts and even gunshots from a nearby Azerbaijani army post earlier in the morning.

Two other Azerbaijani soldiers were detained last April after crossing into Syunik from Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. One of them was subsequently convicted by Armenian courts of murdering a Syunik resident the day before his detention. Armenia freed both men in December in exchange for Azerbaijan’s release of 32 Armenian soldiers and civilians.

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