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Deadly Skirmish Reported Near Karabakh

By Emil Danielyan

An Azerbaijani soldier has been killed and a civilian wounded in a skirmish with Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani television station reported on late Tuesday.

The ANS channel said Azerbaijani army positions near a village in the northern section of the frontline around Karabakh came under “intensive” automatic gunfire from Armenian troops. It said sounds of explosion could also be heard in the area.

There was no immediate confirmation of the report from official Azerbaijani and Azerbaijani sources.

Sporadic exchanges of fire from automatic weapons are periodically reported from the heavily militarized Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact, with each party usually accusing the other of violating the 11-year ceasefire in the zone of conflict. The Azerbaijani side has regularly reported casualties in recent months.

Breaches of the ceasefire regime became more frequent last spring despite progress that was apparently made in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. Officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert said at the time that Azerbaijani troops are moving their positions closer to Armenian fortifications east and north of Karabakh. Some even suggested that Baku may be preparing for large-scale military action.

Renewed fighting seems even more unlikely now that the parties are reportedly close to agreeing on a resolution of the Karabakh dispute. Echoing statements by international mediators, a senior official representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Tuesday that a peace deal could be announced as early as this year.

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