UPDATE - Azerbaijan detains Armenian sabotage group member in Kalbajar district

UPDATE - Azerbaijan detains Armenian sabotage group member in Kalbajar district

‘Armenian intelligence-sabotage group tried to infiltrate territory of Azerbaijan using gaps between combat positions’ in Kalbajar district, says Azerbaijani Defense Ministry

UPDATES WITH STATEMENT FROM AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTRY, ADDS BACKGROUND

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Azerbaijan on Wednesday said it detained a member of a sabotage group of the Armenian military as the group attempted to infiltrate the country’s Kalbajar district in East Zangezur.

“On August 16, around 11:15 a.m. (0715GMT), the intelligence-sabotage group of the Armenian armed forces tried to infiltrate the territory of Azerbaijan using the gaps between the combat positions located in the direction of the settlement of Istisu, Kalbajar district, in order to carry out terrorist-sabotage operations,” said a statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

The attempt of the Armenian military was prevented “as a result of the vigilance of our units,” the statement said, adding that a member of the sabotage group was detained by military personnel.

The detained person was injured and other members of the sabotage group were forced to retreat, it also said.

“Information about the detained member of the group is currently being clarified. Additional information will be provided to the public,” it added.

In a separate statement, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned the infiltration attempt, saying that it considered the move "as a continuation of the policy of manipulation" ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Lachin road later in the day.

"We call on Armenia to refrain from provocative steps and statements that aggravate the situation in the region, from interfering in Azerbaijan's internal affairs, and to fulfill its obligations instead of continuing to try to confuse the international community," the statement said.

It added that the responsibility for the escalation of the situation in the region "lies directly with the military and political leadership of Armenia."

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries rose in recent months over the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to Karabakh.

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