Armenia, Azerbaijan report truce violations

Ceasefire came into force at midnight on Saturday; both accuse each other of using artillery fire

Despite a second attempt at a ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations on Sunday of violating the new truce in their conflict over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The latest truce, which was announced on Saturday and took force at midnight, came after a week-old Russian-brokered ceasefire failed to halt heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces that broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27. The fighting and shelling has killed hundreds of people — both combatants and civilians — and marks the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over the region in more than a quarter-century.

Spectre of conflict

The recent fighting, involving heavy artillery, rockets and drones, has continued despite repeated calls for cessation of hostilities coming from around the globe. The escalation of fighting raises the spectre of a wider conflict that could draw in Russia and Turkey and threaten Caspian Sea energy exports.

Armenian military officials on Sunday reported artillery shelling and missile strikes by Azerbaijani forces in the conflict zone overnight. In the morning, “the enemy launched an attack in the southern direction,” and there were “casualties and wounded on both sides,” Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian said.

Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry, in turn, maintained that Armenian forces used mortars and artillery in the conflict zone overnight despite the cease-fire and in the morning attempted attacks in several directions. The Ministry accused Armenia of using large-caliber weapons to attack the positions of the Azerbaijani army in two regions north of Nagorno-Karabakh along the border between the two countries, a claim Armenian military officials denied.

The Azerbaijani military also said it downed an Armenian Su-25 warplane “attempting to inflict airstrikes,” but Ms. Stepanian dismissed the statement as untrue.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 673 of their servicemen have been killed in the fighting. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, but says 60 civilians have died so far.

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