An Azerbaijani soldier and an ethnic Armenian soldier of the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region’s army died in fresh clashes on Tuesday, hours after Baku and Yerevan agreed to respect a ceasefire in the disputed territory.

It was their first confrontation since fierce fighting in Karabakh claimed the lives of at least 110 people from all sides last month.

On Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian met in Vienna where they agreed to respect a ceasefire and renew peace talks in June.

“Right after the Vienna talks, the Armenian side violated the ceasefire,” Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said in a statement.

“An Azerbaijani soldier was mortally wounded during Armenia’s shelling of Azerbaijani positions.”

The defense ministry in Karabakh for its part accused Baku of shelling its positions along the volatile frontline.

“One soldier of the Karabakh army was killed in the southern sector of the frontline,” the ministry said.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have feuded over Nagorny Karabakh since Armenian separatists seized the landlocked territory in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives in the early 1990s.

The two sides never signed a firm peace deal despite a 1994 ceasefire and have regularly exchanged fire across the frontline, but last month’s fighting represented an unprecedented spike in violence.

Both sides have been rearming heavily in recent years and the sudden escalation in fighting has seen the parties ramp up their rhetoric, accusing each other of fuelling the conflict.

 

AFP

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