Baku claims Armenian rebels killed civilian
National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Stepanakert. Source: Wikimedia
Azerbaijan has said one civilian was killed and eight wounded by gunfire from the Armenian-backed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday, as tensions remain high weeks after renewed clashes broke out.
Both sides said they exchanged fire overnight and blamed the other side for starting the violence. A Moscow-brokered ceasefire ended four days of fighting in the separatist-held region on April 5, but night-time shooting can still be heard. The separatist authorities in Stepanakert said earlier this week that three of their troops were killed by Azeri attacks.
The Azeri prosecutor general’s office announced: “One resident of Chemenli village in Agdam region was killed, six others were injured and taken to the hospital in a serious condition.”
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry’s press spokesman Khikmet Gadzhiyev said: “The Armenian side, flagrantly violating international humanitarian law, irresponsibly and purposefully shells Azerbaijan civilians. As a result of this, one civilian was killed and seven more were injured in Agdamsky district. Serious damage was inflicted on over 20 civilian facilities on the territory of Tertersky and Agdamsy districts”.
He claimed that the Armenian rebels used cluster bombs against civilians.
Gadzhiyev also commented on Armenia’s claims that Azeri forces were inflicting damage Armenian civilians, saying “there are no civilians on these territories”.
“Azerbaijan comprehensively informed and warned the international community that Armenia is preparing new provocations. Responsibility for the actions that the Azerbaijani armed forces have to make to ensure security of civilians along the contact line, lies fully with Armenia,” Gadzhiyev said.
Oil-rich Baku’s defence ministry said that it had carried out “retaliatory strikes” on what it claimed were military targets after Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist militia allegedly fired multiple-rocket launchers. The ministry said the Yerevan-backed troops had violated Moscow’s ceasefire more than 117 times with mortars and howitzers, adding that it had returned fire.
Rebels in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan’s military of violating the peace deal and shelling their positions with tanks, mortars, multiple rocket launchers. They also accused Baku’s forces of violating the Geneva convention by positioning themselves close to civilian populations.
The mountainous region is within Azerbaijan’s borders but populated mainly by ethnic Armenians who reject Baku’s rule. With Armenian backing, separatists fought a war in the early 1990s to establish control over the Nagorno-Karabakh. Thousands fled their homes on both sides and around 30,000 deaths were recorded.
This month saw the most intense fighting since the 1994 ceasefire.