By Mark Dovich
Three Armenian soldiers were killed in action Wednesday evening in the latest violation of the fragile ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that came into effect two weeks ago.
“As a result of Azerbaijan’s provocation, the Armenian side has three losses,” a spokesperson for Armenia’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
Clashes began at 6 p.m. local time and ended by 10 p.m., according to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, which said that “units of the armed forces of Azerbaijan opened fire toward Armenian positions in the eastern direction of the border, using mortars and large-caliber weapons,” prompting “retaliatory actions” by Armenian units.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported one soldier wounded in a shoot-out that it claims Armenian units initiated at 6 p.m. along the border near the regions of Vayots Dzor and Kelbajar.
These are the first ceasefire violation accusations by either side since last Friday, which capped off four consecutive days of ceasefire violations along the border.
Yerevan reported one Armenian soldier injured last week, while Baku reported three Azerbaijani soldiers injured. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
Wednesday’s violation comes two weeks after a fragile ceasefire came into effect, ending two days of fierce fighting in broad swaths of eastern and southern Armenia.
Azerbaijan launched a major attack on Armenia proper two weeks ago, shelling three dozen municipalities and marking an unprecedented escalation in hostilities.
Two days of heavy clashes left nearly 300 people killed or missing and almost 600 people injured, including civilians, according to official figures from both sides. It was the bloodiest outbreak of hostilities in the region since the war in and around Karabakh (Artsakh) two years ago․
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned that “the risk of new aggression by Azerbaijan remains very high” in a major address last week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.