MOSCOW — Investigators in Nagorno-Karabakh said Wednesday that the fatal shooting of Artur Mkrtchyan, leader of the separatist territory's Parliament, was an accident, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass said.
Initial reports said that "assailants" had killed Mkrtchyan on Tuesday in his apartment in Stepanakert, capital of the predominantly Christian Armenian enclave within Muslim Azerbaijan.
Wednesday's brief announcement by the Nagorno-Karabakh government said that Mkrtchyan, 34, the Armenian leader of the enclave's independence fight, was accidentally killed by a bullet from an automatic rifle. It offered no details.
One initial statement that gunmen were involved came from Armen Isagulov, chief of the Nagorno-Karabakh Interior Department. He offered no proof, and neither did the Nagorno-Karabakh government in calling the death accidental.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Parliament named Mkrtchyan's deputy, Georgy Petrosian, as a temporary replacement.
A three-day mourning period was declared in the mountainous territory, which has been racked by violence that has left 1,500 dead in four years.