STEPANAKERT, YEREVAN–The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Defense Ministry reported on Thursday that its Armed Forces repelled a commando attack by Azerbaijani special forces into the Kelbajar district of Artsakh and arrested several Azerbaijani servicemen.
“The enemy’s reconnaissance-sabotage group was detected on time,” said a statement issued by the Karabakh defense ministry, which added that during the operation “some of its [Azerbaijani] members were arrested while the others fled.”
The defense ministry also stressed that there were no Armenian casualties during the operation.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces immediately denied the existence of such an operation. In response to Baku’s denial, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic defense ministry identified one of the captive Azerbaijani soldiers as Guliyev Shahbaz Jalaloghlui, born in 1968 and is registered in Mirbashir region, Ghapanlu village.
The Artsakh defense ministry also released photographs of the large cache of arms and ammunition seized from the Azerbaijani insurgents.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Thursday that Kelbajar attacks could be connected to the disappearance earlier this week of a 17-year-old Karabakh resident, Smbat Tsakanian. The authorities in Stepanakert did not rule out such a connection.
According to a spokesman for Karabakh President Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh military and police are now looking for Tsakanian as well as Azerbaijani “saboteurs” that might still be hiding in the area. “Our investigative efforts will show what happened,” the official, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Meanwhile in Yerevan, Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian warned his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov to be “sober” when ordering his soldiers to attack border points and other positions in the Line of Contact.
“The instruction can have a snowball effect and could backfire,” for the Azerbaijani side, said Ohanyan while speaking to the press at a military unit in Ararat Province.
In the Chinari village in the Tavush district of Armenia, sporadic Azerbaijani shots were reported at the border.
“The gunfire started at 9:30 pm and lasted until 2 am,” the Chinari village administrator Samvel Saghoyan told Aysor.am, adding that the new wave of attacks damaged houses and shattered windows of residential buildings.