Armenia says soldier killed by Azerbaijani shelling

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YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenian says one of its soldiers was killed by Azerbaijani shelling on Monday amid simmering tensions on the border between the two ex-Soviet neighbors.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-old dispute over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

Fierce fighting that erupted in September 2020 ended six weeks later with a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw Azerbaijan gain control of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and reclaim all the regions that were controlled by Armenian forces outside the separatist region.

Tensions again escalated last week, which saw the worst clashes since the 2020 hostilities. At least seven Azerbaijani troops and one Armenian servicemen died in the fighting last week.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani forces again fired on Armenian positions near the border village of Norabak in the Gegharkunik region on Monday, killing a 19-year-old soldier.

Earlier Monday, opposition supporters blocked traffic in Armenia’s capital to urge the government to take a tougher stance amid tensions with neighboring Azerbaijan.

The protesters demanded that the authorities don’t sign documents on the delimitation and demarcation of the border between the countries and reject Azerbaijan’s plans for transport corridors across the Armenian territory.

About 2,000 demonstrators marched across the Armenian capital on Monday’s evening to protest what they fear would be a deal with Azerbaijan betraying national interests.

The Russia-brokered peace agreement envisaged a transport corridor via Armenia that would link Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhchivan region — a plan strongly opposed by the Armenian opposition.

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