A Russian peacekeeper was wounded and an Azeri serviceman was killed in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Monday, after a land mine went off during a search for the bodies of those killed in recent fighting.
The search was carried out in line with the Moscow-brokered armistice between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The peace deal, signed a week ago, put an end to nearly two months of intense conflict between the neighbors, also seeing Russian peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh to separate the sides and prevent any provocations.
The landmine detonated when a search party – made up of Russian and Azeri servicemen as well as representatives of the Nagorno-Karabakh Emergences Ministry and the International Committee of the Red Cross – was working near the village of Magadiz on Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
An Azeri officer lost his life in the blast, which also wounded a Russian peacekeeper and four Nagorno-Karabakh rescuers. The Russian officer was promptly flown to Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, for treatment, with officials saying he was not in life-threatening condition.
The efforts to retrieve the bodies of those killed in fighting over the disputed territory have been carried out “coherently and efficiently” for a week now, the statement said. All of the remains discovered are being handed over to the relevant sides so that burials could be organized.
The truce is currently being observed along the entire line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh. More than 11,000 refugees who fled the conflict have returned to their homes since the ceasefire kicked in, including some 2,300 on Monday alone.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenians, has been a bone of contention between Baku and Yerevan for decades. The two nations had previously fought a bloody war over the region between 1988 and 1994, with serious fighting flaring up again in September after intermittent skirmishes in the time since.
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