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Armenia, Azerbaijan blame each other for deadly post-ceasefire clashes

BAKU/YEREVAN (Reuters) - Clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have killed four Azeri servicemen in recent weeks, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said on Sunday, in the first report of casualties since a Russian-brokered ceasefire accord.

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Separately, authorities in Armenia said six of their servicemen had been wounded in what they described as an Azeri military offensive that took place on Saturday.

The Baku government said the clashes, which also left two Azeri servicemen wounded, had taken place in an area that fell under its control when the fighting ended on Nov. 10 and territory in Nagorno-Karabakh previously controlled by ethnic Armenians was handed over to Azerbaijan.

It said the military operation on Friday and Saturday aimed to destroy or drive out enemy forces responsible for the deadly attacks on Azeri servicemen.

Yerevan said Armenian forces had repelled attempted intrusions into territories supposed to remain under the control of the rebel province’s government, namely the Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd villages.

“The provocations of Azerbaijan continued today in the direction of the villages of Mets Shen and Hin Shen in the Hadrut region,” Armenia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

In another statement, Armenia’s defence ministry said: “negotiations between Armenian, Russian and Azerbaijani servicemen are underway to resolve the situation in Hadrut and ensure the return of the parties to their former positions”.

Russian peacekeepers deployed in the conflict area have reported no major clashes but said at the weekend there had been one ceasefire violation.

Azerbaijan’s State Security Service said that “unfounded accusations against the Azeri side and the Russian peacekeepers by some Armenian leaders and media” were unacceptable.

The Armenian foreign ministry said Russian forces were not deployed in the area where the clashes broke out.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in Baku and Nvard Hovhannisyan in Yerevan; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones and Barbara Lewis

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