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Troops of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh clash; 3 killed

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YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces reignited Wednesday in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where three soldiers were reported killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh military officials said drone attacks carried out by Azerbaijani forces killed two of their troops and wounded another 14.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said one of the country’s servicemembers died in what it alleged was a “terrorist act” by “illegal Armenian military formations.” The Azerbaijani military carried out a “retaliatory operation” in response, killing and wounding an unspecified number of “illegal Armenian militants.”

Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leader, Arayik Harutyunyan, announced a partial military mobilization Wednesday, further fueling tensions in the region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

A 2020 war in the region killed more than 6,600 people. After six weeks of intense fighting, a peace deal brokered by Russia allowed Azerbaijan to reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that the Armenia-backed separatists controlled.

Moscow has sent some 2,000 troops it called peacekeepers to the region.

Officials in Armenia and Azerbaijan traded blame for the renewed clashes on Wednesday. The Russian Defense Ministry alleged it was Azerbaijan that violated the 2020 cease-fire.

Tensions have been building on the two nations’ shared border since May of last year, when Armenia protested what it described as an incursion by Azerbaijani troops into its territory.

Azerbaijan has insisted that its soldiers were deployed in areas where the border has yet to be demarcated.

Sporadic clashes have taken place in the last year.

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