Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of violating a new truce
Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday struggled for a second time to halt fierce fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, accusing each other of violating a new cease-fire.
Both sides had agreed on a truce to start at midnight local time (20:00 GMT Saturday).
But just hours after the truce went into effect, the Armenian defense ministry accused the Azeri forces of using artillery and missiles.
“Once again violating the humanitarian cease-fire, the enemy fired artillery shells in the northern direction from 00:04 to 02:45, and fired rockets in the southern direction from 02:20 to 02:45,” said Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan.
Azerbaijan later said Armenia had broken the truce after two minutes.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Armenian forces had “grossly violated another agreement”, accusing them of firing artillery and mortar shells in various directions and of launching early morning attacks along the frontline.
Previously, the two countries issued a joint statement confirming the truce, saying that the decision was taken following the statement of the presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group_ a body set up in 1992 and chaired by the three countries to mediate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Both countries had also signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire last Saturday. However, clashes continued despite that accord.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called both his counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan before the announcement Saturday and said both sides need to “strictly follow” last week’s cease-fire deal, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians after it was seized during the war in the early 1990s.