Ethnic Armenian authorities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Wednesday accused Azeri forces of capturing several dozen of their troops, in violation of the ceasefire deal.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have been involved in a territorial conflict since they gained independence in the 1990s. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is historically an ethnic Armenian region, has been the focal point of the conflict between the two nations.

More than 2,000 people have died since the fighting broke out on September 27, including many civilians. The six weeks of fierce fighting ended on November 10 with a Moscow-brokered ceasefire, under which Azerbaijan reclaimed much of the region along with surrounding areas. The peace deal prompted mass protests in Armenia, with opposition supporters demanding the country’s prime minister resign over his handling of the conflict.

In the meantime, Russian peacekeeping forces have deployed in the region, but clashes broke out on Sunday that Azerbaijan and Armenia each blamed on the other side. Four Azeri troops were reported killed in the fighting and six ethnic Armenians wounded.

On Wednesday, Nagorno-Karabakh’s defence ministry said it had lost contact with several military positions late on Tuesday in areas that were supposed to remain under its control according to the ceasefire deal. Hours later, regional head Arayik Harutyunyan said the troops had been captured and accused Azerbaijan of a “provocation.”

The incident came shortly after Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed they had begun exchanging groups of prisoners of war.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here