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Azeris killed in deadliest clash with Armenia amid Clinton visit

This photo is not directly related to the story. (Yonhap Photo)
This photo is not directly related to the story. (Yonhap Photo)

Five Azeri soldiers were killed in a border clash with Armenian soldiers in the deadliest incident between the neighbors in four years as visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of risks of a regional conflict.

The servicemen were killed while repelling an attack by an Armenian “saboteur” squad in the western Qazax district early today, Teymur Abdullayev, a spokesman for the Azeri Defense Ministry, said by phone. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said three soldiers were killed yesterday by an “invading” Azeri group.

Energy-rich Azerbaijan fought a war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic Armenian-populated region that broke free of Baku’s control after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union in 1991. Clinton, who is visiting the South Caucasus region this week, said yesterday that sporadic violence along the militarized cease-fire line threatens to turn into a broader conflict.

“I am very concerned about the danger of escalation of tensions and the senseless deaths of young soldiers and innocent civilians,” Clinton said at a joint briefing with her Armenian counterpart, Eduard Nalbandian, in the capital, Yerevan. “The use of force will not resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and therefore force must not be used.”

The territory remains a potential flash point in a region where Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after separatist tensions flared up. While the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan largely ended after a Russia-brokered cease-fire in 1994, the countries have failed to reach a peace agreement.

Clinton is also visiting Georgia and Azerbaijan during her trip this week. Companies led by London-based BP Plc (BP/) have invested about $35 billion in Azerbaijan’s oil and gas fields since 1991. (Bloomberg)


<관련 한글 기사>

군인 5명 충격 사망, 왜?

아제르바이잔 군인 5명이 아르메니아 군과 국경 충돌과정에서 살해됐다고 아제르가 5일 밝혔다.

블룸버그 통신에 따르면 테이무르 압둘 아제르 국방부 대변인은 이 군인들이 이날 오전 나고르노-카라바흐 서부 카자흐 지역에서 아르메니아군의 공격을 격퇴하던 중 사망했다고 말했다.

이에 앞서 4일 아르메니아 국방부는 자국 군인 3명이 국경을 침입한 아제르  군에 의해 살해됐다고 주장했다.

이날 아르메니아를 방문한 클린턴 장관은 기자들에게 "무력으로는  나고르노-카라바흐 분규를 해결할 수 없으며 무력을 사용해서는 안된다"며 폭력 자제를  촉구했다.

양국의 분쟁지역인 나고르노-카라바흐는 아제르 지역에 있지만 아르메니아 분리주의자들이 1998년 전쟁을 일으켜 점령하고 있다.

양측은 1994년 휴전을 했지만 계속 국경에서 충돌이 발생했으며 평화 협정을 체결하는 데 실패했다.

클린턴 장관은 조지아(옛 그루지야)를 거쳐 6일 아제르바이잔을 방문한다. (연합뉴스)