Clashes erupt between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

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YREVAN / BAKU (Reuters) – Armenia declared martial law and mobilized its male population on Sunday after clashes with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in which sources on both sides said dead.

Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian region inside Azerbaijan that declared independence in 1991, also announced martial law and mobilized the male population after clashes that both sides blamed on each other. ‘one another.

Armenia said Azerbaijan carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan said it responded to Armenian bombing.

Armenian human rights activists said two civilians, a woman and a child, were killed in the Azeri shelling. Baku said an unknown number of Azeri civilians were killed and six injured, and Nagorno-Karabakh said 10 of its soldiers were killed. Reports cannot be independently confirmed.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, mediator in decades of conflict between majority Christian Armenia and majority Muslim Azerbaijan, urged the two sides to immediately cease fire and hold talks.

The two countries have long disagreed over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that erupted when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Although a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.

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The conflict has worried Western and regional countries in part because it could cause instability in the South Caucasus, which serves as a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to global markets.

FREQUENT SKIRMISHES

The Armenian Defense Ministry said its troops destroyed three tanks and shot down two helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicles in response to an attack on civilian targets, including the Nagorno-Karabakh capital, Stepanakert.

“Our response will be proportionate, and Azerbaijan’s military-political leaders bear full responsibility for the situation,” the ministry said in a statement taken up by the Foreign Ministry.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Twitter: “We stand strong alongside our army to protect our homeland from the Azeri invasion.”

Azerbaijan denied the Armenian Defense Ministry’s statement, claiming it had “a full advantage over the enemy at the front”, and accused Armenian forces of launching “deliberate and targeted” attacks along the line. the front line.

“We defend our territory, our cause is right!” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a speech to the nation.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said some civilians were killed, but gave no record.

At least 200 people were killed in an upsurge in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016. Skirmishes are frequent and at least 16 were reportedly killed in clashes in July.

Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Vladimir Soldatkin; Edited by Stephen Coates and Timothy Heritage

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