Ceasefire largely holding around Nagorno-Karabakh

2016-04-06 17:01
(Karen Minasyan, AFP)

(Karen Minasyan, AFP)

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Baku - A ceasefire has largely held Wednesday around Nagorno-Karabakh despite claims of sporadic violations after an outburst of fighting that has raised fears of an all-out war.

Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said its forces have been observing the ceasefire that was declared at midday on Tuesday following three days of intense battles involving heavy artillery and rockets. The ministry accused Armenian forces of breaking the truce on several occasions on Wednesday by firing mortars at Azerbaijani positions, adding that Azerbaijani forces hasn't returned fire.

Nagorno-Karabakh military spokesperson Senor Asratyan has countered by saying that its forces have strictly respected the ceasefire, which was agreed by the top military officers of Azerbaijan and Armenia who met in Moscow on Tuesday.

Fighting that erupted around the region over the weekend marked the worst violence since a separatist war ended in 1994 and left Nagorno-Karabakh, officially a part of Azerbaijan, under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military. Armenian forces also occupy several areas outside the Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan's defence minister, Vagif Dargyakhly, said that 31 Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed in action since Saturday. The Karabakh military said on Tuesday that 29 of its soldiers have been killed and another 101 wounded in fighting since the weekend.

Mustagim Mammadov, the head of local administration in Terter, a region in Azerbaijan affected by fighting, said the Armenian forces fired automatic weapons overnight at front-line villages in the area, but there were no casualties. He added that there was no fighting during daytime on Wednesday.

Mammadov, who was speaking by telephone from the frontline village of Gapanli, said that life in the village was getting back to normal on Wednesday as a local school reopened and local residents worked to restore power lines.

Three civilians were killed and another six were wounded in the Terter region during the latest outburst of fighting, Mammadov said.

The flare-up of fighting raised fears of a possible escalation in hostilities, with Turkey strongly backing Azerbaijan and Russia obliged to protect Armenia by a mutual security pact.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had separate phone conversations on Tuesday with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, urging them to honour the ceasefire. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is set to hold talks in Azerbaijan on Thursday, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is expected to visit the Armenian capital Yerevan on the same day.

Read more on:    turkey  |  armenia  |  russia  |  azerbaijan

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