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ARMENIA MILITANTS TO FREE 100 OFFICERS KIDNAPPED IN FIGHT OVER ETHNIC REGION

Armenian militants agreed to free 10 commonwealth army officers kidnapped in an attempt to gain arms for the fight over Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Television reported Wednesday.

It was not clear if the officers had actually been released.A press spokesman at Commonwealth of Independent States military headquarters in Moscow could not confirm the report.

On Tuesday, army Gen. Nikolai Stolyarov accused the militants of trying to draw commonwealth forces into the battle between Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan.

He said the militants threatened to kill the officers, who were kidnapped over the weekend, unless the army turned over arms and ammunition by Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in four years of ethnic fighting over the region in the southern Caucasus Mountains that has been administered by Azerbaijan since 1923.

The region's capital, Stepanakert, was heavily shelled by Azerbaijani forces Tuesday for the first time in a week.