Advertisement

Both Azerbaijan, Armenia report shelling despite Russia-brokered cease-fire

Click to play video 'Azerbaijan’s president says Armenia leaving disputed region is only way for peace amid conflict' Azerbaijan’s president says Armenia leaving disputed region is only way for peace amid conflict
WATCH: Azerbaijan's president says Armenia leaving disputed region is only way for peace amid conflict – Sep 30, 2020

Azerbaijan on Sunday accused Armenia of attacking its cities and villages in violation of the cease-fire deal brokered by Russia that seeks to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Read more: Ottawa must act to prevent a second genocide, Armenian diaspora in Canada says

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said that Armenian forces shelled villages in the Aghdam, Terter, Aghjabedi and Fizuli regions of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani authorities earlier accused Armenian forces of firing missiles at Ganja, the country’s second largest city, and the city of Mingachevir overnight.

Nine civilians were killed and more than 30 others wounded in Ganja, officials said. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called the attack on the city “a war crime” and a “gross” violation of the cease-fire on Twitter, promising “a befitting retaliation.”

Nagorno-Karabakh’s military officials denied attacking Ganja and said the territory’s army is observing the cease-fire. They added that during the night Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert, the region’s capital, and other towns in violation of the truce.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: CCTV footage shows moment of Ganja attack despite ceasefire' Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: CCTV footage shows moment of Ganja attack despite ceasefire
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: CCTV footage shows moment of Ganja attack despite ceasefire – Oct 11, 2020

The recent bout of fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces started Sept. 27 and left hundreds of people dead in the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

EAD MORE: Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of shelling historic cathedral amid conflict

The region lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia.

The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a truce in Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin had brokered it in a series of calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Click to play video 'Pope praises Nagorno-Karabakh truce, prays for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan' Pope praises Nagorno-Karabakh truce, prays for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Pope praises Nagorno-Karabakh truce, prays for peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan – Oct 11, 2020

The cease-fire took effect at noon Saturday, after talks in Moscow that were sponsored by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The deal stipulated that the cease-fire should pave the way for talks on settling the conflict.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to cease-fire after talks in Moscow

If the truce had held, it would have marked a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan.

However, minutes after the cease-fire took force, both sides accused each other of continuing attacks in violation of the deal.

Click to play video 'Armenia-Azerbaijan: What’s behind the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh?' Armenia-Azerbaijan: What’s behind the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Armenia-Azerbaijan: What’s behind the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh? – Oct 9, 2020

The situation in the region was “relatively calm” on Sunday morning, according to Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan, with only minor hostilities along the front line. But it was unclear whether the calm would last, he said.

Later Sunday, Armenian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian reported attacks by Azerbaijani forces on southern and northeastern directions, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh’s forces “resolutely suppress all enemy operations.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia says Azerbaijan attacking civilian areas with cluster bombs' Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia says Azerbaijan attacking civilian areas with cluster bombs
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia says Azerbaijan attacking civilian areas with cluster bombs – Oct 5, 2020

Nagorno-Karabakh’s army in a statement Sunday promised a “disproportionately harsh” response if Azerbaijan “continues to violate the cease-fire.” The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said that “the political and military leadership of Armenia bears the responsibility for the aggravation of the situation in the region.”

Azerbaijan’s president said in an interview with the Russian RBC news outlet that “if the Armenian side is committed to the cease-fire regime … the phase of political settlement will begin.”

Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow, and Avet Demourian in Yerevan, Armenia, contributed to this report.