Last night, 15 service members of Armenian Armed Forces, who were captured by Azerbaijani forces during the recent military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, returned to Armenia.
They were liberated in exchange for maps of 97,000 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines laid in the in the Fizuli and Zangilan regions in Nagorno-Karabakh that came under Azerbaijani control.
According to Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence, “as a humanistic step, Baku handed over to Armenia 15 people of Armenian origin, who were imprisoned by the court’s verdict and the term of the imposed sentence has expired.”
The exchange was carried out under Russian initiative [under control of Commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent].
“We express our gratitude to Rustam Muradov, Commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent temporarily deployed in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, for his mediation services in the implementation of the humanitarian initiative to obtain mine maps”. – statement by Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads.
Mine maps are necessary for Azerbaijan to accelerate mine clearance, as well as the implementation of reconstruction and rehabilitation projects initiated by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, and returning of displaced persons in the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh that came under control of Baku.
The previous exchange took place on June 12. 15 military personnel came back to Armenia in exchange for maps of 97,000 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines laid in the border Aghdam region.
After the end of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone last autumn, seven districts in Nagorno-Karabakh, came under the control of Baku. The mine clearance of the territories affected by the conflict remains one of the main post-war issues between Baku and Yerevan.
On June 4, three people were killed and four people were wounded as a result of the mine explosion in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district.