Four Armenian soldiers killed in Azerbaijani attack

Tegh, Armenia (Wikimedia Commons)

Relative stability has returned to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border after four Armenian soldiers were killed in an Azerbaijani attack on April 11. 

The Defense Ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan both reported cross-border fire near the village Tegh in the southernmost Syunik province of Armenia. At least four Armenian soldiers were killed and six wounded. Arthur Sahaykan (1999), Mkrtich Harutyunyan (1989), Henrik Kocharyan (1997) and Narek Sargsyan (1994) were killed in the fighting. As of Wednesday evening, three of the wounded soldiers remain in serious condition, while three are in stable condition. 

The Armenian Defense Ministry said that around 4 p.m. local time, Azerbaijani armed forces opened fire at Armenian soldiers “carrying out engineering works in the direction of the Tegh community.” The fighting lasted around three hours. 

The MoD published a video that reportedly shows how the attack took place. In the video, Azerbaijani soldiers drive up to Armenian soldiers digging trenches along the border before opening fire. Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Azerbaijani soldiers approached “under the pretext of clarification of positions on the border.” 

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accused the Armenian side of starting the fighting. Three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, and four were wounded.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Russian guards along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border were notified of the fighting. They “immediately contacted Armenian and Azerbaijani officials and took de-escalation measures.” 

“The incident once again confirms the need for Baku and Yerevan’s mutual restraint, as well as strict observance of the trilateral agreements concluded by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Zakharova said during a press briefing. 

Fighting also reportedly took place near the village Sotk in the Gegharkunik province of Armenia. Ruzanna Grigoryan, representative of GeoProMining, the company that operates the Sotk gold mine, told Armenpress that Azerbaijani forces fired at Armenian positions near Sotk. Operations at the mine were temporarily suspended, and its employees were evacuated. Armenian officials have not confirmed this report. 

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the use and threat of force are an “integral part of Azerbaijan’s policy” and aim to “undermine the efforts of mediating partners to continue peace negotiations.”

“These aggressive actions of the Azerbaijani side have been carried out despite the readiness to resolve the existing problems through constructive negotiations expressed by the Armenian side earlier,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry also accused the Armenian side of destabilizing negotiations. “The fact that such provocations by Armenia took place in the face of serious calls for negotiations on a peace agreement by the international community shows that Armenia is not interested in the peace process,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

“In order to prevent provocations of Armenia, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan are taking and will continue to take all necessary measures,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry continued. 

On March 30, Azerbaijani soldiers advanced up to 300 meters into Armenian territory at five border sections near Tegh and set up posts. Farmers from Tegh have lost access to their fields and cannot work due to the presence of Azerbaijani soldiers. 

Tegh is the final border village in Armenia on the road to Artsakh. The Tegh-Kornidzor road, which is still under construction, connects to the new path of the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor that has been in operation since August 2022. The new route begins in the village Kornidzor in Syunik, passes through the village Hin Shen in the Shushi district and reaches the Artsakh capital Stepanakert. 

On August 30, Azerbaijani forces captured an alternate temporary route that has been in use by Armenia to reach the Berdzor Corridor, forcing Armenia to start using the Tegh-Kornidzor road.  

The European Union said that it “deplores the armed clashes that yesterday led to several Armenian and Azerbaijani servicemen being killed or injured.” It called for the withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers from the border.

“This incident yet again emphasizes that in the absence of a delimited border, the 1991 line must be respected, the forces of either side withdrawn to safe distances from this line to prevent any similar incidents from occurring,” Nabila Massrali, the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement. 

The EU also urged the “intensification of negotiations on the delimitation of the border.” 

In January, the EU deployed a two-year mission to monitor the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The mission includes 100 civilian staff members. The aim of the mission is to “contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence and human security in conflict affected areas, and ensure an environment conducive to the normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU.” 

Armenian and Azerbaijani observers have been warning of an imminent military escalation by Azerbaijan for weeks. Independent Azerbaijani news outlet Mikroskop Media reported on March 13 that Azerbaijani media have been preparing the public for the outbreak of fighting. The outlet said that Azerbaijani TV channels have been warning of an Armenian provocation that would trigger an anti-terrorist operation by Azerbaijan.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.

16 Comments

  1. What happened to the once most potent capable fighting Army in the Caucuses? Pashinyan. That’s what happened. He is the enemy within. He already acknowledged ancient Armenian lands as being part of Azerbaijan as if its his to declare.. He has pretty much washed his hands of Artsakh. He is a traitor. HE MUST BE RID AT ALL COST. What Armenia needs most is a patriotic unifying capable leader. One that welcomes all Armenians to train in the Armenian military, to re-populate, to contribute and become a world wide force all working as one.

    • I see comment after comment on how “Pashinyan must go”, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone offer up who they think actually should take his place. Who specifically would you want to see? Who has these capabilities?

  2. MONTEL MELKONIAN, WHERE DO YOU LIVE? DO YOU LIVE IN ARMENIA OR ARTSAKH? ARE YOU IN THE ARMENIAN ARMY?

  3. Nicol’s entire system has its foundation solidly built on lies, deception, fraud, and deep corruption Unfortunately and unfortunately many Armenians do not want to swallow the uncomfortable truth but they want to swallow the comfortable lies.

  4. Some idiotic comments being posted by those who don’t even live in Armenia. Respect the will of the Armenian people and who they have voted for!

    • Expats and especially diaspora of any ethnic group tend to have rather fanciful views of their homeland. Ask the man who cuts the hay how it’s done

    • Do you really think an average politically ignorant Armenian in Armenia really knows who he is voting for? I doubt that very much. Watch pre-election YouTube discussions in the streets of Armenia about who they will vote for in upcoming elections and the reasons why and you will find out that the majority interviewed mention three things: 1) Freedom of expression, 2) Increase in social security payments, 3) Paving the roads. Do you really think these should be the concerns and determining factors of an average Armenian citizen living under constant threat of war to choose an incompetent journalist to lead a country in a state of war?

      Furthermore, if Armenians outside of Armenia should have no say about such critical matters in Armenia, and instead be treated only as ‘cash cows’ then what is all this talk about worldwide Armenian unity?

    • Is this the will of the Armenian People? To lose the buffer zone and have tatars fire on and bomb armenian territory at will? losing Armenian soldiers at a ratio of over 1 to the Tatar Azeri’s? and having Arstakh Armenians blockaded from help? this is ok?

      if this is ok with the Armenian people maybe they are more concerned about how to reach southern California as soon as possible.

  5. Another four murdered by the barbarians…. And the response of the gov’t….”We are committed to peace”
    It takes two parties. Adjust accordingly.

    • Forget about adjusting. They have got to be forced out followed by court martial because the Armenian constitution requires and demands that government must defend and secure the borders of the country from all foreign aggression and protect the population and guarantee their safety and security. If they can’t and are unable to deliver those then they have no business running a country.

      The way this incompetent, dysfunctional and treasonous Pashinyan government is dealing with our despicable enemy aggression reminds me of a farmer who thinks by sacrificing a few sheep from the herd he can keep the rest safe from blood-thirty wolves. What this farmer does not realize is that the character of the wolf is such that even if it is after one sheep to satisfy its hunger it will also attack all the rest and kill and injure them by nature. So what is the farmer to do in this case? Well, if he has half a brain, he will secure the herd and hunt down and annihilate all the wolves! But this sheep in office is only concerned about himself and no one else!

  6. @Harry the problem was the previous governments kept playing for time and were obstinate and not facing reality behind their cocoon as the balance of power shifted further away from Armenia. This first started to show mildly in 2016 catastrophically in 2020 and steadily since.

    Condemn Pashinyan for all you will, say if the pre 2018 rump was to return to power they would find a different nation and equally important a different regional situation and a global one too for that matter. The idea if he is out then Armenia + Arktash will return to the good old days 1994 – 2020 is wrong. Don’t fall for the stab in the back myth that was popular in Germany after WW1 only to suffer total defeat in WW2 and the notion of a stab in the back was not convincing and had to accept they had been outmatched actually.

    Seperately the issue of diaspora voting if they are citizens then that should be allowed if they aren’t then they shouldn’t, just like most countries require the electorate to be citizens or residents.

  7. During his entire life Nikol dreamed of abandoning Artsakh, unconditionally opening Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and last but not least bring Armenia out of Russia’s orbit. Nikol was therefore placed into power exactly for this purpose in 2018. It can be proved in court that Nikol and team were financed by Western and Turkish money. Serj Sargsyan is also at fault for surrendering his power. In any case, everything else being said about Nikol and his toxic regime by his supporters is political spin meant to deflect blame and distract the sheeple. Ultimately, Nikol is Armenia’s version of Azerbaijan’s Abulfaz Elchibey, Georgia’s Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukraine’s Voldomor Zelninsky. So, no wonder Moscow has no respect towards Yerevan. Russia will punish Armenians by pulling its protective hand away just enough to bring Armenia to its knees, and then simply walk in as liberators. Let’s hope that happens sooner than later. For the past 30 years, and particularly during the past 5 years, we Armenians proved beyond any doubt that we as a people are incapable of self rule. There are no free meals in politics. Politically illiteracy has a high cost. Karma is a…

    • @ Concerned Armenian
      I see you have returned with your usual theme. The la la land that all was well pre 2018. It’s just fine for Russia to cavort with Turkey and Azerbaijan as that’s it’s right as a nation but Armenia must be a loyal “silent woman” about this. Russia takes Armenia for granted in the confidence that it’s issues with Turkey and Azerbaijan are iritractable and so long as Armenia isn’t overrun can appear to be it’s protector although Aliyiev is potentially embarrassing Russia and showing them up with his borderisation with Armenia and blockade of Arktash in a perverse way he is helping Armenia to see its friend for what it is. The ‘patriots’ you liked so much presided over the balance of power shifting to Azerbaijan and obstinately prevaricating over Arktash not even bothering to recognise it as independent and in effect handed Pashinyan a poisoned chalice. Russia wants Azerbaijan to control Arktash to curry favour with Baku and for influence of its oil and gas and access to Iran, it wants Armenia weak so it can act as its saviour but it seems its utterly cynical policy is being shown as being too clever by half!

  8. This is border demarcation and delimitation through a barrel of a gun, Aliyev style. As long as Armenia does not push back, Azerbaijan will continue to invade Armenia. I expect that Artsakh, Vardenis, Jermuk and Goris will be next on the menu. Pashinyan waving a peace flag merely shows Armenia’s weakness; nobody in the international community is sanctioning nor threatening Azerbaijan with serious consequences. Is Pashinyan trying to buy time to build up Armenia’s armed forces ? I hope so. If Armenia survives this fiasco, let this be a painful lesson to all Armenians in the future. In this neighborhood there is no room for laziness, braggadocio, corruption, wishful thinking and hope that outside powers will come to the rescue. I thought that Armenians learned that in 1915 but apparently not. Organize and plan for the future so that there is no repetition of these failures.

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