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June 05, 2012

Azerbaijani Troops Reported Killed in Armenia Border Clashes

by VOA News

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of killing five Azerbaijani soldiers in a second day of violence at the common border.

This brings to eight the death toll in the border clashes since Monday. Armenia said Monday that three of its soldiers were killed. Several people on both sides have been wounded in the exchange of fire.

The most recent Azerbaijani-Armenian border violence has flared up at the time when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting south Caucasus.  During a stop in Armenia Monday, she decried the senseless deaths of young soldiers and innocent civilians. She also warned that continued fighting could turn into a broader regional conflict. Clinton is due in Azerbaijan Wednesday.

Azerbaijan's foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov said the two sides will meet in Paris June 18.  An OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) panel will participate in the talks, which are expected to look into the clashes and seek a long-term solution.  The so-called Minsk group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, has been mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks between the two rivals.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six year war over the mostly Armenian speaking enclave of Nargorno-Karabakh which is located inside Azerbaijan.  Before the end of the war in 1994, some 30,000 people were killed and more than a million became displaced, mostly in Azerbaijan.   Armenia has occupied the territory since the war ended.   

Despite the 1994 ceasefire sporadic border clashes have continued and a permanent peace deal has yet to be signed.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.