Azerbaijan, Armenia declare martial law after clashes kill at least 16 soldiers

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Azerbaijan and Armenia declared martial law early Sunday after clashes killed at least 16 servicemen and several civilians.The two countries, two former Soviet republics, had their most violent clash since 2016 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory located inside Azerbaijan but ruled by ethnic Armenians, on Sunday. Reuters reported.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of an air and artillery strike on the region, with Nagorno-Karabakh claiming that 16 of its soldiers were killed and more than 100 injured in the attack. Armenian activists also said that an Armenian woman and child were killed.

Armenia also said Azeri troops attacked civilian targets, prompting Armenia to promise a “proportionate response.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted Armenia’s decision to declare martial law after the strike.

Azerbaijan also declared martial law and claimed its attack was in response to Armenian bombings, which killed five members of one family, according to Reuters. He also claimed to have taken over up to seven villages, which Nagorno-Karabakh initially denied but later added that it had lost “some positions”.

Azerbaijan denied Armenian claims that Azeri helicopters and tanks had been demolished and said Armenia was carrying out “deliberate and targeted” strikes along the front line.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that the Armenian army “had fired at our settlements as well as at our military positions”, adding that the Azerbaijani army “was currently firing at the military position of the enemy, and as a result of these strikes, many units of the enemy’s military equipment were destroyed, ” from the Politico translation of a state agency report.

In response to Sunday’s conflict, Russia called on countries to declare a ceasefire, while Turkey said it would support Azerbaijan in any face-to-face action, Reuters reported. The European Union and the Organization for the Secretary and Co-operation in Europe have both urged countries to disengage from attacks and resume negotiations.

The violence came after tensions between majority Christian Armenia and predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan erupted at war in the 1990s, as the Soviet Union collapsed and Nagorno-Karabakh separated from the Azerbaijan in 1991. Clashes continued over the years, including in 2016, when at least 200 people were killed and in July at least 16 people were killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh is close to pipelines that carry Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the rest of the world, Reuters noted.



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