Two Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan: Officials

AFP , Wednesday 21 Jan 2015

Azerbaijani forces on Wednesday killed two Armenian soldiers in clashes with Armenian troops, officials said as tensions escalated over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh.

"Azerbaijani armed forces attempted to attack Armenia's defensive positions" at the Karabakh frontline, the breakaway region's defence ministry said in a statement.

The ethnic-Armenian Karabakh army's "serviceman Nahapet Asatrian, 33, was killed in action."

In a separate incident across the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, 35-year-old Armenian army soldier Arman Udumian, "died of mortal wounds as Azerbaijan violated ceasefire," the defence ministry in Yerevan said.

Azerbaijan is locked in a years-long conflict with Armenia over Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

Sparking fears of a fresh escalation, clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces intensified in January following an unprecedented spiral of violence last year.

Two Karabakh soldiers were reportedly killed in similar incidents on Tuesday and Saturday.

Ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the territory during a 1990s war that left some 30,000 dead.

Despite years of negotiations, the two sides have not yet signed a final peace deal, with Karabakh internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

Baku, whose military spending exceeds Armenia's entire state budget, has threatened to take back the region by force if negotiations fail to yield results.

Armenia, which is heavily armed by Russia, says it could crush any offensive.

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