June 4, 2021 Azerbaijan BY Al Jazeera

2 Azerbaijani journalists killed in landmine explosion

A landmine explosion in Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar region, west of Nagorno-Karabakh, has killed two Azerbaijani journalists and an official, authorities said.

Four others were injured in Friday’s incident, which saw an anti-tank mine blow up a truck at about 11am local time (07:00GMT), Azerbaijan’s interior ministry and the office of the prosecutor general said in a statement.

The three victims were identified as local official Arif Aliyev, Maharram Ibrahimov, a reporter working for state news agency AzerTag, and Siraj Abishov, a journalist with the state-run AzTV station.

The blast came amid a border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which fought a six-week war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year.

Jeyhun Bayramov, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, said he was “deeply saddened” as he called on Armenia to hand over maps locating mined areas.

The Azerbaijani government has repeatedly accused Armenia of refusing to submit such maps.

“Every day they continue to refuse this request, more lives are endangered!” Bayramov tweeted.

Similarly, Arif Aliyev, head of the Yeni Nesil (New Generation) Journalists Union, said the reporters should have had access to maps of mined areas.

“I am blaming the international community and organisations,” Aliyev said. “Months have already passed and we still cannot get maps of mined areas.”

Kalbajar is one of the regions that was handed back to Azerbaijan after last year’s conflict.

Elchin Shikhly, head of the Azerbaijani Journalists Union, accused the Armenian state of “violating international law”.

“The mines have been planted recently in that area of Kalbajar,” Shikhly told Al Jazeera.

“This means that Armenia is engaged in terrorism and sabotage at the state level. The international community must urgently react to this issue.”

At the time of publishing, Armenian officials had not offered any comment on the explosion.

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