Azerbaijan Hands 15 Prisoners to Armenia
Azerbaijan handed over 15 prisoners of Armenian origin to Armenia on Saturday in return for maps revealing details of 92,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said.
Azerbaijan has handed over to Yerevan, capital of Armenia, 15 Armenian soldiers who were captured last year during an armed conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, officials said.
The Foreign Ministry in Baku, Azerbaijan, said on Saturday that the move was "part of a deal brokered by Russia and came in the wake of Yerevan's decision to hand Baku maps of minefields in the conflict zone."
Last month, Georgia mediated the handover of 15 Armenian prisoners from Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that its country handed over the prisoners "in exchange for maps of 97 thousand mines."
Russia welcomed such a move, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated: "Wonderful and long-awaited news. We welcome such steps."
Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in September 2020 and claimed 6,000 lives over six weeks.
The war ended in November with a Russian-brokered ceasefire, and Yerevan ceded to Azerbaijan large swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.
Mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the areas with the most anti-personnel and anti-mechanical mines.
Since the ceasefire, mines in the area have killed seven of its soldiers, 18 civilians, and injured 110 others, stated the Azerbaijani government.