The vehicle of a reporter was hit.

Azeris Fire Missile into Artsakh

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STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL) —  One unit of “military defense equipment” of the Karabakh defense army was partially damaged during a guided missile strike launched by Azerbaijani armed forces on Monday, May 15, according to Defense Ministry officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert.

In a Facebook post Artsrun Hovannisian, a spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry, said the incident happened in the afternoon as Azerbaijani armed forces opened fire at one of the Armenian defense facilities located in the eastern direction of the heavily militarized line of contact.

The official did not specify what kind of military hardware was hit by the Azerbaijani fire.

Earlier, Azerbaijan’s Trend news agency quoted the country’s Defense Ministry as saying that an Armenian Osa air defense system, a supply vehicle and its crew were destroyed. The Ministry added that the system’s deployment near the line of contact was a “provocation” and a threat to Azerbaijani aircraft.

Both Hovannisian and his Karabakh counterpart Senor Hasratian denied that there had been casualties on the Armenian side as a result of the Azerbaijani strike.

In an identical message posted on their Facebook accounts both officials said: “We state that the provocation of the Azerbaijani armed forces will not remain unanswered, while the entire responsibility for the consequences will lie with the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan.”

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The previous week, on Wednesday, May 10, a cameraman for an Armenian television station was wounded when a car carrying him came under fire near the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Davit Atoyan was part of a Shant TV crew that was visiting Karabakh Defense army positions in the north of the territory on assignment. He was reportedly shot in the leg and underwent surgery in a military hospital in Stepanakert.

“The car was shot at from a long-range sniper rifle,” Vitali Balasanian, a senior Karabakh security official said.

Another official in Stepanakert, Davit Babayan, said that Azerbaijani troops stationed nearby deliberately targeted the civilian vehicle. “They knew that it is carrying journalists,” he claimed.

According to the APA news agency, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that its frontline troops shot at a “camouflaged vehicle of the armed forces of Armenia” in response to gunfire coming from it.

Ceasefire violations at this and other sections of “the line of contact” intensified in the first two months of this year. They appear to have been less frequent since the end of March.

Still, daily reports by Karabakh’s Defense Army suggest that tensions on the frontlines have somewhat increased in the past week. A statement by the army said that Azerbaijani forces fired a dozen rounds from mortars and light cannons at its positions in northeastern Karabakh on Wednesday and early Thursday.