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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Civilians hit as Armenia, Azerbaijan violate ceasefire

At least 13 were killed and more than 40 injured after Armenia launched a missile-attack on Azerbaijan’s second-biggest city Ganja early on Saturday morning.

By: Express Web Desk |
October 17, 2020 8:37:51 pm
Search and rescue teams work on a blast site hit by a rocket during the fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan October 17, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The warring nations of Azerbaijan and Armenia have once again accused each other of violating a week-old truce brokered by Russia, as tensions continue to escalate over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

At least 13 people were killed and more than 40 injured after Armenia launched a missile-attack on Azerbaijan’s second-biggest city Ganja early on Saturday morning, the Azerbaijani prosecutor general’s office has said.

The ballistic missile strike allegedly razed several residential houses to the ground, killing and injuring dozens of people in their sleep, Al Jazeera reported. A rescue operation is currently underway, with around 100 rescuers trying to reach people who are believed to be trapped under the rubble.

In a statement issued this morning, the country’s foreign ministry accused Armenia of “deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians”.

“Continuous aggression of Armenia, cruel attacks on the civilians must be stopped and the international community should not turn a blind eye to these inhuman acts by Armenia against the people of Azerbaijan,” the statement read.

Denying the allegations, the Armenian Defence ministry accused Azerbaijan of shelling residences in the city of Stepanakert, the BBC reported. Stepanakert is the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been the cause of conflict between the two neighbouring nations for decades.

According to officials, the capital came under intense shelling last night, leaving three civilians wounded, Reuters reported.

The most recent outburst of fighting began in September and has killed hundreds so far. Despite both sides signing a Moscow-brokered ceasefire last week, the conflict has continued.

Here are the top updates on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Azerbaijan will give its response on the battlefield: Azerbaijani president

Calling the missile strike on Ganja a war crime, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev warned Armenian officials that they would soon have to own up and face responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported.

“Azerbaijan will give its response and it will do so exclusively on the battlefield,” he said in a televised address to the nation.

In a tweet shared on Saturday, the President Aliyev announced that Azerbaijan’s army had seized the town of Fizuli and seven surrounding villages. Fizuli is amongst the Azerbaijani regions near Nagorno-Karabakh that were seized by Armenian forces in the early 1990s.

Armenia denies allegations, accuses Azerbaijan of shelling populated areas

The Armenian Defence Ministry has categorically denied launching a missile strike on Azerbaijan, and has accused the country of carrying out overnight shelling in some of the most populated areas inside Nagorno-Karabakh, including the region’s capital city of Stepanakert.

At least three civilians were wounded as a result of the Azeri firing in the region, the foreign ministry said. The country also claimed that several drones flew over Armenian settlements, destroying military installations and damaging civilian infrastructure, Reuters reported.

Several residents have said that they heard and witnessed a number of loud explosions through the night.

Turkey calls attack on Azerbaijani city a ‘war crime’

Azerbaijan’s long-time ally Turkey has accused Armenia of committing a war crime by launching a missile strike on the city of Ganja. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that Armenia must be held responsible for the attack.

“Armenia still commits war crimes&massacres civilians. Kills innocent people incl. children.Silence against this atrocity equals sharing responsibility of these murders.Those who have no humanity will be held accountable for their crimes.Will always stand by brotherly,” he wrote.

While the US, France and Russia jointly condemned the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for ceasefire, Turkey has continuously dismissed demands for a ceasefire.

Death toll in Ganja includes two children, claims Azerbaijani official

Two children were among the 13 people who lost their lives in the missile attack in Ganja, according to Mushfiq Jafarov, a member of parliament from the city.

“There are only civilians living here,” he told Al Jazeera. He added that more than 40 people had been injured in the attack.

Two sites, around five kilometres apart, had been targeted, he said.

Pompeo condemns Turkey’s involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday condemned the role that Turkey has been playing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and called for the issue to be resolved through diplomacy, Reuters reported.

“We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight,” he said in an interview with US-based broadcaster WSB Atlanta.

“The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation,” he added.

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