Azerbaijani forces today killed three ethnic-Armenian soldiers in the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region's army along the enclave's volatile frontline, rebel authorities in Karabakh said. Azerbaijani troops had shelled Karabakh army positions using anti-tank grenade launchers, said a Karabakh defence ministry statement. "Three servicemen of the Karabakh army, all aged 20, were killed as a result," it added. Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a protracted conflict over the disputed region, and frequent exchanges of fire nearly spiralled into all-out war a year ago. In April last year, at least 110 people from both sides were killed as simmering violence flared into the worst clashes in decades over the region. A Russian-brokered ceasefire ended the four days of fierce fighting in April but attempts to relaunch the stalled peace process since then have failed. Baku and Yerevan have feuded over the Nagorny Karabakh region since Armenian separatists seized the territory in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives in the early 1990s and ended in a fragile 1994 truce. The two sides never signed a firm peace deal. Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia's entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway region by force. But Moscow-allied Armenia has vowed to crush any military offensive.
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