Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Azeri forces downed a Russian helicopter Mi-24 near its border with Armenia by accident, killing two servicemen and wounding another.

The defence ministry said the helicopter was accompanying a military convoy but did not clarify the purpose of the convoy. Russia has a large military base in Armenia, but it is about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from where the helicopter was shot down.

It added in a statement that it “should be emphasised” that the helicopter was flying in a zone where “active military clashes continue” the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, that it flew “in the dark, at low altitude, outside of air defense radar detection zone,” and that no Russian military helicopters had been spotted in that area.

“In the context of the mentioned factors and in light of the tense situation in the region and increase combat readiness in connection with possible provocations by the Armenian side, the combat crew on duty took the decision to open fire.

“The Azerbaijani side apologises to the Russian side in connection with this tragic incident, which is accidental and was not directed against the Russian side,” it also said, expressing “since condolences” the families of the victims.