Five dead in new Azerbaijan-Armenia clash over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region

Five people have been killed in clashes between Azerbaijani troops and Armenian police in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said two of its troops were killed in an exchange of fire after soldiers stopped a convoy it suspected of carrying weapons from the area's main town to more rural areas on an unauthorised road.

Armenia's foreign ministry said three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed and dismissed the allegations the convoy was carrying weapons as "absurd".

The ministry said it had been carrying documents and a service pistol and described the shoot-out as an "ambush".

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan but its population is made up predominantly of ethnic Armenians.

This has resulted in the region being the focal point of two wars in the three decades since both countries gained independence from the Soviet Union.

Ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia, took control of Karabakh and surrounding territories in 1994.

But Azerbaijan recaptured large swathes of territory in a six-week conflict in 2020 that killed 6,000 people.

That war ended with a truce and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers, who remain in the area.

Read more: Armenia says 49 soldiers killed as fighting breaks out with Azerbaijan

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have met several times to resolve the conflict, but periodic violence has damaged peace efforts.

The agreement that ended the 2020 war resulted in a single road called the Lachin Corridor being the only authorised connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia - a lifeline for supplies to the area's approximately 120,000 people.

But the road has been mostly blocked since December by protesters believed to be backed by Azerbaijani authorities.