Azerbaijani journalists killed in mine blast | Conflict news

A mine blast in the Kalbajar region west of the mountainous western Arab region has killed two Azerbaijani journalists and an official, authorities say.

At least 11 people were injured in an anti-tank mine blast at 11 a.m. local time (07:00 GMT), according to a statement issued by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan.

The three victims were identified as local official Arif Ali, AzerTag state news agency correspondent Maharam Ibrahimov and AzTV state station journalist Siraj Abishov.

The blast took place amid a border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which last year waged a six-week war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Eyhun Bayramov said he was “deeply saddened” to call on Armenia to hand over maps of the minefields.

The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly accused Armenia of refusing to provide such maps.

“Every day they continue to reject this request, more lives are in danger.” Bayramov wrote in tweets.

Similarly, Arif Ali, head of the Yeni Nasil (New Generation) Journalists’ Union, said journalists should have access to maps of minefields.

“I blame the international community and the organizations,” Ali said. “Months have passed, we still can not get maps of minefields.”

Kalbajar is one of the regions returned to Azerbaijan after last year’s conflict.

President of the Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan Elchin Shikhli accused the Armenian state of “violating international law.”

“Recently, mines were planted in the area of ​​Kalbajar,” Shikhli told Al Jazeera.

“This means that Armenia is engaged in terrorism and sabotage at the state level. The international community must respond urgently to this issue. “

At the time of publication, Armenian officials did not comment on the blast.

Border dispute

During the decades-long conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, they often deny the claims of the other side.

Azerbaijan said a week ago that one of its soldiers had been wounded after Armenian forces opened fire along the common border, accusations that Yerevan denies.

The alleged incident took place in Kalbajar a day after the capture of six Azerbaijani Azerbaijani servicemen.

Armenia said its forces were conducting engineering work in the area, while Azerbaijan said the troops were part of a “reconnaissance and sabotage group.”

Last week, Yerjan claimed that one of his servicemen had been killed in a shootout with Azerbaijani forces, prompting Baku to deny responsibility.

In early May, Armenia accused the Azerbaijani armed forces of crossing its southern border to “besiege” a lake divided by the two countries.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The latest tensions come after a clash between rivals last year, which ended in November.

Azerbaijan was seen as a victor in the war, with its troops ousting ethnic Armenian forces from areas they had controlled in and around Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1990s.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, even by Armenia, but is populated by ethnic Armenians.

Russia eventually mediated a ceasefire to end the fighting, which was blocked by Azerbaijan’s territorial gains.

The conflict claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people on both sides and led to a political crisis in Armenia, where Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was widely condemned for what many considered a humiliating defeat.

Pashinyan, 45, said he had no choice but to give in or see his country’s forces suffer more casualties.

Against the backdrop of last year’s conflict, under pressure from opposition protesters, Pashinyan announced early parliamentary elections.

Elections are scheduled for June 20.

Armenia, known as the First Nagorno-Karabakh Arab War, fought with Azerbaijan over the region in the 1990s in a clash that killed at least 30,000 people.

In 2016, heavy fighting lasted four days in April.

Last year’s clashes marked the worst fighting since the mid-1990s.

Additional report by Seymur Kazimov in Baku.

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