Azerbaijani forces say they have captured an Armenian spy following the latest in a series of tit-for-tat raids along the volatile frontier between the two arch-foes. “There was an attempt by an Armenian reconnaissance and sabotage group to cross the border in the Tovuz region (northwestern Azerbaijan) on January 28,” the defence ministry in Baku said in a statement released late Tuesday.
“After a short exchange of fire the group retreated. Azerbaijani troops captured the leader of the group, Mamiko Khojayan, who was armed and wounded,” the statement said.
The latest clash comes amid an uptick in violence over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh that has seen at least two Azerbaijani soldiers and one combattant from the separatist region killed over the past 10 days. Both sides have also accused each other of launching failed cross-border raids along the conflict-ridden frontline over the same period. Armenia-backed separatists seized Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a 1990s war that killed 30,000 people. Despite years of negotiations since a 1994 ceasefire, the two sides have yet to sign a peace deal.
Azerbaijan has threatened to take back the disputed region by force if negotiations do not yield results, while Armenia has vowed to retaliate against any military action. Around 20 soldiers from both sides were reportedly killed last year.