2 Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan, despite cease-fire

2 Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan, despite cease-fire
Updated 08 April 2016

2 Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan, despite cease-fire

2 Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan, despite cease-fire

BAKU/YEREVAN: Two ethnic Armenian troops died in fighting with Azerbaijani forces Friday as the arch foes accused each other of breaching a cease-fire that halted the worst outbreak of violence in decades over a disputed breakaway region.
The latest clashes are the first serious violation of a Moscow-mediated cease-fire which took effect on Tuesday, ending several days of fighting over the Nagorny Karabakh region that claimed at least 90 lives.
Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed separatists said on Friday they had struck a temporary deal to allow each side to safely search for the bodies of their soldiers killed in clashes over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The warring parties agreed a cease-fire, with Russian help, after four days of shelling and artillery strikes which killed dozens. The truce has largely held, though both sides have reported some violations.
The violence prompted fears of an all out war in the strategically-important South Caucasus through which Caspian Sea oil and gas is exported to world markets bypassing Russia.
The unrest has sparked concern of a wider conflict in the strategic area that could drag in regional powers Russia and Turkey.
“Azerbaijan violated a cease-fire overnight” using mortars to shell ethnic Armenian rebel positions in Karabakh, the separatist Defence Ministry said in a statement, adding that two soldiers were killed.
Armenia accused Azerbaijan of shelling both military and civilian targets on the border.
“The Armenian villages of Karmir, Ttudjur, and Baganis came under Azerbaijani fire,” defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said in a statement.
Azerbaijan, a mostly Muslim former Soviet republic, said it returned fire after Armenian forces shelled its positions in Karabakh.
“Azerbaijani armed forces responded to Armenian artillery strikes,” Defense Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargahly said.
“Civilian targets (in Azerbaijan) were also shelled by the Armenian forces.”
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry later said the sides had reached an agreement to restore a ceasefire regime from 3 p.m. Baku time (1100 GMT).