YEREVAN - Azerbaijani forces on Thursday killed three Armenian troops in the latest border clash between the neighbours locked in a protracted conflict over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, Yerevan said.

“In the early hours of Thursday morning, Azerbaijani armed forces attempted a subversive intrusion into Armenian territory,” Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan told AFP.

“Three Armenian troops were killed” in the shootout near the Armenian village of Chinari, he said, adding that “fighting continues, with both sides using grenade launchers and sniper rifles.”

Baku, for its part, accused Armenia of sending a “subversive group” to Azerbaijan.

The group “was ambushed as it attempted to violate the Azerbaijani state border,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

“The enemy suffered heavy losses and was forced to retreat. One Azerbaijani soldier is missing.”

The latest clash is one of the bloodiest since a surge in violence in April left at least 110 people dead and the bitter Caucasus rivals on the brink of all-out war.

Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and Armenia have feuded over the Nagorny Karabakh region since Armenian separatists seized the territory in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives in the early 1990s.

The two sides never signed a firm peace deal despite a 1994 truce and have regularly exchanged fire across their shared border and along the frontline.

A Russian-brokered ceasefire ended the four days of fierce fighting in April but attempts to relaunch the stalled peace process since then have failed.