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Several soldiers killed in Armenia-Azerbaijan border clashes -ministries

BAKU/YEREVAN — Several Azeri and Armenian soldiers have been killed and wounded in border clashes, defense ministries of both countries said on Monday, with each accusing the other of encroaching on their territory.

The two former Soviet republics have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, although the latest clashes occurred some 300 km (190 miles) from the mountainous enclave.

The Azeri defense ministry said four of its soldiers were killed and five wounded while Armenia’s ministry said that two of its soldiers were wounded. The two sides traded accusations of ceasefire violations and firing artillery.

Exchanges of fire began on Sunday and continued into Monday in the rugged South Caucasus region.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a highland enclave within Azerbaijan, is run by ethnic Armenians who declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.

Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.

The frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has concerned the international community in part because of its threat to stability in a region that serves as a corridor for pipelines taking oil and gas to world markets. (Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in Baku and Nvard Hovhannisyan in Yerevan Writing by Margarita Antidze Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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