Armenians kill five Azerbaijani troops in border clash: Baku
BAKU - Agence France-Presse
Armenian soldiers. AP Photo
Armenian forces killed five Azerbaijani soldiers in a new border clash Tuesday, Baku said, in a new flaring of tensions as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits the volatile Caucasus region.
The Azerbaijani defence ministry said fighting broke out when "a group of Armenian saboteurs made an attempt to penetrate the military positions of the national army" in the country's north-west.
"During the fight, four soldiers of the Azerbaijani armed forces were killed and another died as a result of the Armenians opening fire," the ministry said in a statement.
On Monday, Armenia alleged that Azerbaijani troops had killed three of its soldiers and wounded six more during another deadly battle on the border between the enemy ex-Soviet states, although Baku denied this.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a long-running conflict over the territory of Nagorny Karabakh, where they fought a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people, but this week's clashes erupted away from the disputed region.
Visiting Yerevan on Monday, Clinton said she was concerned by the rising tensions and warned Armenia and Azerbaijan not to settle their conflict by force.
"I am very concerned about the danger of escalation of tensions and the senseless deaths of young soldiers and innocent civilians," she said after Monday's violence.
"The use of force will not resolve the Nagorny Karabakh conflict and therefore force must not be used." The Karabakh war saw Armenia-backed separatists seize the region from Azerbaijan.
Despite years of negotiations since the 1994 ceasefire, the two sides have not yet signed a final peace deal and there are still frequent exchanges of gunfire along the front line.
Azerbaijan has threatened to use force to win back Karabakh if peace talks fail to yield satisfactory results, but Armenia has warned of large-scale retaliation against any military action.
Clinton is due to visit Baku on Wednesday.