France, US and Russia step up calls for Karabakh ceasefire after bombings hit major cities

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Armenia, Azerbaijan commercialize accusations of civilian strikes as conflict rages in Nagorno-Karabakh


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Stepanakert, a town of 50,000 inhabitants in the heart of the mountainous province of Karabakh, has been under constant artillery fire since Friday, with residents crowding into underground shelters.

The separatist Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the bombing of Stepanakert resumed at 6:30 a.m. (02:30 GMT).

He released video footage of repeated bursts of heavy shelling and debris from severely damaged apartment blocks, claiming that Azerbaijan had used cluster munitions.

Azerbaijan, for its part, said Armenian forces were bombing the towns of Ganja, with a population of over 330,000, and Agjabedi, which has a population of around 38,000, as well as the towns of Beylagan, Barda and Terter. .

Hikmet Hajiyev, an adviser to President Ilham Aliyev, accused the Armenians of “attacking densely populated civilian areas” and claimed to have bombed the central market in Ganja.

“Barbarism and vandalism. Sign of weakness and panic, ”he wrote on Twitter.

‘Indiscriminate bombing’

More than 40 civilians were reportedly killed on both sides.

On Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross condemned reports of “indiscriminate bombing and other suspected illegal attacks using explosive weapons in towns, villages and other populated areas.”

A witness in Stepanakert told AFP the town suffered heavy artillery fire on Monday morning, but the shelling subsided by midday.

The streets were largely empty, the witness said, and many people took refuge in basements.

Convoys of residents fled the city for Armenian territory, with groups gathering in the border town of Goris in the hope of finding passage to the capital Yerevan.

In a fiery speech to the nation on Sunday, Aliyev laid down the conditions for an end to the fighting.

He said the Armenian forces “must leave our territories, not in word but in deed,” provide a timetable for a full withdrawal, apologize to the Azerbaijani people and recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

‘Hunt them like dogs’

“Nagorno-Karabakh is our land. We have to go back and we are doing it now, ”Aliyev said.

” It is the end. We showed them who we are. We chase them like dogs.

Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a war in the early 1990s that left 30,000 dead.

Talks to resolve the conflict have made little progress since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

Turkey is a powerful ally of Azerbaijan, a Muslim and Turkish country, and has been accused of sending mercenaries from Syria and Libya to join the fighting.

(AFP)

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