The exchange was facilitated by Russian peacekeepers who have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh for five years under the peace deal.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have exchanged prisoners, a move stipulated in the peace deal between the two ex-Soviet nations that ended recent fighting over the formerly Armenian occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijani authorities said an all-for-all exchange of prisoners and hostages have been agreed with Armenia, and a plane with some of the captives landed in Azerbaijan on Monday afternoon.
The exchange was facilitated by Russian peacekeepers that have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh under the peace deal.
Russia's Defence Ministry said on Monday that 12 captives were handed over to Azerbaijan and 44 to Armenia.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many more prisoners the two countries intend to exchange.
READ MORE: Azerbaijan says Armenia violates Karabakh truce, kills soldiers
Revival separatist war
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
Armenia was able to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and some other territories around it following the war.
Heavy fighting erupted in late September and marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, killing more than 5,600 people on both sides.
A Russian-brokered peace agreement that took effect November 10 halted the violence and stipulated that Armenia hand over control to Azerbaijan of some areas it holds outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders.
Azerbaijan also retained control over areas of Nagorno-Karabakh it took during the conflict, and both sides agreed to exchange prisoners, hostages and bodies of the victims of the fighting.
Before the recent conflict, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
READ MORE: Azerbaijan: Nearly 2,800 soldiers killed in Karabakh fighting
Parades and protests
In accordance with the agreement, nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh under a five-year mandate.
The peace deal was celebrated in Azerbaijan as a major triumph, and last week a massive military parade was held in Baku to mark it.
In Armenia, the truce sparked outrage and mass protests, with thousands regularly taking to the streets to demand the ouster of the country’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, over his handling of the conflict.
Thousands of people rallied in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, once again on Monday, chanting “Nikol, go away!” and “Armenia without Nikol!”
On Monday, Pashinyan announced three days of mourning to start on Saturday to honour the victims of the fighting.
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