Armenia, Azerbaijan blame each other for hitting civilian areas


YEREVAN – Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Monday of attacking civilian areas on a ninth day of fighting, the deadliest in the South Caucasus region in more than 25 years.

Hundreds of people were killed in the latest outbreak of war on Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave owned by Azerbaijan under international law but populated and ruled by ethnic Armenians.

Nagorno-Karabakh said Azeri forces launched rocket strikes on its capital Stepanakert, while Azerbaijan said Armenia fired missiles at several towns outside the breakaway region.

“The enemy is firing rockets at Stepanakert and Shushi. The response of the defense army will not be long in coming, ”said Vahram Pogosyan, a spokesperson for the leader of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Tense fighting is underway,” Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said.

Azerbaijan said Armenia launched missile attacks against densely populated areas and civilian infrastructure in Azerbaijan, including the cities of Mingachevir and Terter. The Azeri Defense Ministry said its radar system recorded that the launches were carried out from Armenian territory.

The Azeri Defense Ministry reported that people were injured. No attack was reported from the Armenian side.

“Mingachevir is home to a water reservoir and a key power station. A barbaric expression of desperation, ”Azeri presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said on Twitter.

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Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have denied Azeri claims that the Armenian armed forces have launched a missile attack.

“The fact that Armenia opened fire on Azeri strongholds” is completely false information, said Artrsun Hovhannisyan, an official at the Armenian defense ministry.

Men examine the damage in a residential area after it was bombarded by Azerbaijani artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday.David Ghahramanyan / InfoCenter NKR / AP

The clashes are the worst since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people were killed, and are spreading beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. They raised international concerns about stability in the South Caucasus, where pipelines bring Azeri oil and gas to world markets.

The conflict threatens to lead to other regional powers as Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey, while Armenia has a defense pact with Russia.


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