Azerbaijan dismisses reports of helicopter downed by Armenia

Baku, April 2 (IANS) Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry on Saturday dismissed media reports of a helicopter having been downed by Armenian armed forces.

“The information that the Azerbaijani helicopter was shot down along the line of contact is false and a provocation,” Xinhua cited a defence ministry statement as saying.

Nevertheless, Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry said that the situation along the contact line has been very tense in recent days.

One civilian was killed and another wounded in Tartar district in a firing incident by Armenia, it said.

It also said the Armenian troops used mortars and large-calibre machine guns in the exchange of fire along the border and some Azerbaijani places including Krasnoselsk, Goygol and Khojavand “were under attack”.

The Azerbaijani forces had carried out 130 strikes on Armenian positions, the ministry said.

The press service of the Armenian Defence Ministry said the active attacking actions were taken by Azerbaijani force, during which they used heavy weapons, tanks and artillery.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a bitter dispute over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh since 1991.

Peace talks have been held since 1994 when a ceasefire was reached, but there have been occasional minor clashes in the past along the borders and across the volatile frontline of the Karabakh area. The clashes obviously escalated last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday urged the parties in the conflict to “observe an immediate ceasefire and exercise restraint in order to prevent further casualties,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

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