25 Feb 2020 15:56

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accuses Armenia of escalating border tensions

BAKU. Feb 25 (Interfax) - Azerbaijan holds Armenia responsible for an armed border incident which led to the death of an Azerbaijani border guard, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire again on February 24, and Azerbaijani border guard Ibrahim Veliyev died as a result. Notably, the incident occurred on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border," the ministry said, noting that Baku viewed the actions taken by Armenia on the border as "an indication of aggressive policy."

Azerbaijani and Armenian representatives reported armed incidents on the bilateral border on Monday.

According to the Azerbaijani State Border Service, "Azerbaijani border guards prevented an act of sabotage plotted by the Armenian Armed Forces from the nearby village of Koti in the Noembryan district in the vicinity of the Gushchu Airym village in the Gazakh district at 7 a.m. on February 24."

The service said that the Armenian saboteurs had suffered casualties: at least one Armenian officer was wounded, and another serviceman was killed. "Regrettably, border guard Ibrahim Veliyev was killed while deterring the raid of the Armenian saboteurs," the service said.

Armenian Defense Ministry press secretary Artsrun Hovhannisyan, in turn, said that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces had attacked Armenian positions and inflicted injuries on a serviceman on Sunday.

"Units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire on positions of the Armenian Armed Forces yesterday. An Armenian serviceman was injured; his condition is not life threatening," Hovhannisyan wrote on Facebook on Monday. He said the Armenian forces had returned fire and suppressed the Azerbaijani military activity.

Meanwhile, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said that the escalation of tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone was impeding progress at the peace talks.

"We are extremely concerned about yesterday's actions of Azerbaijan. Everyone knows that we view mitigation of escalation risks as an important element of the negotiated package. The rising escalation is hindering real progress in the negotiating process," Mnatsakanyan said at a joint press conference with Slovak Foreign Minister Stanislav Lajcak in Yerevan on Monday.

Escalation risks must not be allowed to happen, "considering that the method of threats will not work, it is rejected by the Armenian and Karabakh sides," he said.