At Least 3 Police Officers Killed in Nagorno-Karabakh Clash

At Least 3 Police Officers Killed in Nagorno-Karabakh Clash
An ethnic Armenian soldier stands guard next to Nagorno-Karabakh's flag atop of the hill near Charektar in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh at a new border with Kalbajar district turned over to Azerbaijan, on Nov. 25, 2020. (Sergei Grits/File/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

MOSCOW—A shootout between Azerbaijani soldiers and police of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist ethnic Armenian region, killed at least three people Sunday, according to Armenia’s Interior Ministry.

The two sides gave differing accounts of what happened. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said the shootout occurred when soldiers went to check vehicles suspected of transporting weapons along an auxiliary dirt road that leads from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert.

Armenia’s Interior Ministry described the shooting as an “ambush” and said three officers from the region’s passport division were killed.

Azerbaijan said its forces “suffered losses” but did not give specific numbers.

The clash adds to already high tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 that killed more than 6,000 people. The war ended in a Russia-brokered armistice under which Armenia relinquished territories surrounding the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan, but ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia had controlled the region and surrounding territories since 1994.

The agreement to end the 2020 war left a winding road called the Lachin Corridor as the only authorized connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, a lifeline for supplies to the region’s approximately 120,000 people.

However, traffic on that road has been mostly blocked since December by protesters believed to be backed by Azerbaijani authorities.