Azerbaijani Defence Ministry has stated that five Armenian soldiers have been killed by Azerbaijani troops after the border guards of both countries have exchanged fire at their respective frontlines on Aug. 22, eight Armenian soldiers have also been wounded during the clashes.
Azerbaijani authorities have claimed that the Armenian forces fired towards the Azerbaijani positions with high caliber weapons and howitzers in a statement released on Monday. In response to the attack, Azerbaijani military forces engaged in conflict with the Armenian border units, the statement continued.
Three Azerbaijani soldiers have also lightly been wounded by the shrapnel pieces during the clashes, the statement added.
The statement has blamed the Armenian government for raising tension at frontlines and has issued a sharp warning to it saying that Azerbaijan will hit Armenia “more effectively and relentlessly in order to curb” its aggressiveness.
There had also been border clashes between the countries last year. Thirteen Azerbaijani soldiers were reportedly killed during the skirmishes which had continued from July 30 to Aug. 2.
The origin of the clashes has been rooted in a profound conflict concerning the status quo of the Nagorno-Karabakh region located in Azerbaijan between the countries following the World War I. There was a short war between Azerbaijan and Armenia for the region in March–April 1920.
Eventually, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was established within Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union in 1924. The problem had not been emerged in an explosive fashion during the Soviet era.
During the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, the question re-emerged and clashes had begun between ethnic Azerbaijanis and Armenians in November 1988. The clashes had continued on and off until both countries had earned their own independent states in 1991.
Nagorno-Karabakh had held a referendum in December 1991 in order to create an independent state which meant a declaration of separation from the Republic of Azerbaijan. The referendum, which was boycotted by most of the local Azerbaijanis, was claimed to be accepted by the majority of the region.
However, it has been stated that the referendum was illegal because the 15 republics of the Soviets could only declare independence from the union according to the Soviet constitution and Nagorno-Karabakh was not a republic.
Following the referendum, the conflict had escalated between the countries resulting in thousands of casualties and causing displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from both sides by the end of 1993.
Finally, Azerbaijan and Armenia had reached an unofficial cease-fire in May 1994 through the Russian mediation. During the conflict, the Russians had reportedly supported the Armenian forces militarily and politically.
The Russian-sponsored ceasefire has mostly seemed to survive up to date though certain interruptions like the one happened on Saturday take place from time to time.