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Azerbaijan Returns Captured Armenian Soldiers In Exchange For Mine Maps.

Azerbaijan has freed 10 Armenian soldiers captured during deadly border clashes last month.
In return, Armenia handed over maps detailing the location minefields in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan’s State Security Service said on December 4, adding that Russia mediated the exchange. Renewed border clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia in mid-November before Russia brokered a cease-fire, ending the worst fighting since last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war. Azerbaijan said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the November 16 fighting. Armenia said six of its soldiers were killed and more than 30 servicemen were captured. The violence renewed international calls for the two neighbors to engage in a process of delimitating and demarcating their Soviet-era border. Following the clashes, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. In last year's six-week war, Baku gained control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories that had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a separatist war in 1994. Some 2,000 Russian troops were deployed to monitor the cease-fire. Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts are one of the most heavily mined areas of the former Soviet Union. Since the end of last year’s war, Azerbaijan says more than two dozen of its security forces and civilians have been killed and more than 100 people wounded by land mines in the area. Armenia and Azerbaijan have previously swapped prisoners for minefield maps. Azerbaijan’s government hopes obtaining mine maps will help save lives and accelerate construction so that people displaced from villages and towns during a bloody conflict in the early 1990s can return to their lands. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

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