UPDATE 2-Two dead in fresh clash over rebel Caucasus region

* Armenians, Azeris trade blame for Karabakh skirmish

* Second deadly clash in days

(Updates with death of wounded soldier)

By Hasmik Mkrtchyan and Afet Mehtiyeva

YEREVAN/BAKU, Sept 4 (BestGrowthStock) – Two Azeri soldiers were
killed in fighting on Saturday near rebel Nagorno-Karabakh, in
the second clash in days on the front lines of the enclave’s
conflict with Azerbaijan.

Each side accused the other of launching “sabotage” attacks
in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Skirmishes are common around the mountain region, where
Christian ethnic Armenians threw off rule by Muslim Azerbaijan
with the support of Armenia in fighting that erupted as the
Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago.

The unresolved conflict is a constant threat to stability in
the South Caucasus, a region bordering Russia, Iran and Turkey,
and criss-crossed by pipelines carrying oil and gas to Europe.

The Azeri Defence Ministry said its forces suffered the
casualties when repelling an Armenian attack. It initially said
one soldier was killed and another wounded. Private Azeri
broadcaster ANS and the APA news agency, citing the ministry,
later reported that the wounded soldier had also died.

The Nagorno-Karabakh army had said in a statement earlier
that it had fought off an assault by an Azeri sabotage unit at
the northeastern section of the front line on Saturday morning.

“As a result of the measures taken by the Karabakh side …
the Azeris were driven back, leaving one body,” it said, adding
that no Armenians were killed.

On Tuesday, Azerbaijan said two of its soldiers and three
Armenians had died in fighting. Armenian-backed forces in
Nagorno-Karabakh denied suffering any losses in that clash.

Speaking the next day, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev promised
his country’s flag would again fly over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Oil-producing Azerbaijan, host to oil majors including BP
(BP.L: ), ExxonMobil (XOM.N: ) and Chevron (CVX.N: ), frequently
threatens to take the region back by force and has spent heavily
on its military in recent years.

An estimated 30,000 people died in the war which ended with
a ceasefire but no peace deal in 1994. Armenian forces hold
seven Azeri districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh which form a
land corridor with Armenia.
(Writing by Matt Robinson; editing by David Stamp)

UPDATE 2-Two dead in fresh clash over rebel Caucasus region