Muscat Daily

Decades-old con­flict

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Stepanaker­t, Azer­bai­jan - Ar­me­nia and Azer­bai­jan ac­cused each other of vi­o­lat­ing a new cease­fire on Sun­day, as they tried for the sec­ond time in a week to bring a halt to fight­ing over the dis­puted re­gion of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The for­mer Soviet neigh­bours agreed to a truce from mid­night fol­low­ing a push by in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tors for a stop to three weeks of heavy clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, an eth­nic Ar­me­nian re­gion that broke from Azer­bai­jan’s con­trol in the 1990s.

A pre­vi­ous cease­fire agreed a week ago fell apart amid mu­tual ac­cu­sa­tions and con­tin­ued fight­ing that has left hun­dreds dead and forced tens of thou­sands from their homes.

The new cease­fire deal was an­nounced af­ter one of the dead­li­est at­tacks on civil­ians so far on Satur­day, when a mis­sile strike hit a res­i­den­tial area of Azer­bai­jan’s sec­ond city Ganja, killing 13 peo­ple in­clud­ing small chil­dren.

The two sides have de­scribed the agree­ment as a ‘hu­man­i­tar­ian truce’ to al­low for the ex­change of pris­on­ers and bod­ies.

Ar­me­nia’s De­fence Min­istry said Azer­bai­jani forces had vi­o­lated the new cease­fire only min­utes af­ter it took ef­fect, fir­ing ar­tillery shells and rock­ets in the early hours of Sun­day.

Its For­eign Min­istry said Azer­bai­jan had also launched an at­tack in a south­ern area of the Karabakh front­line ‘demon­strat­ing to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity its treach­er­ous na­ture, which we have been deal­ing with for decades’.

Azer­bai­jan’s De­fence Min­istry ac­cused Ar­me­nian forces of fir­ing ar­tillery and mor­tar shells in var­i­ous di­rec­tions and of launch­ing early-morn­ing at­tacks along the front­line.

Ar­me­nia was in ‘gross vi­o­la­tion’ of the cease­fire and show­ing ‘open dis­re­spect’ for the ef­forts of in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tors, the For­eign Min­istry in Baku said.

Azer­bai­jan and Ar­me­nia have been locked in a bit­ter con­flict over Karabakh since Ar­me­nian sep­a­ratists backed by Yere­van seized con­trol of the moun­tain­ous province in a 1990s war that left 30,000 peo­ple dead.

The re­gion's dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence has not been recog­nised by any coun­try, even Ar­me­nia, and it is still part of Azer­bai­jan un­der in­ter­na­tional law.

The fight­ing that broke out three weeks ago has been the heav­i­est since a 1994 cease­fire and has threat­ened to draw in re­gional pow­ers Tur­key, which backs Azer­bai­jan, and Rus­sia, which has a mil­i­tary al­liance with Ar­me­nia.

An AFP jour­nal­ist in Karabakh’s main city Stepanaker­t

heavy ar­tillery and rocket fire dur­ing the fight­ing and most of its res­i­dents have fled to Ar­me­nia.

It was shelled again late on Fri­day and a few hours later the mis­sile strike hit Ganja in Azer­bai­jan, lev­el­ling a row of houses and leav­ing 13 dead and more than 45 peo­ple in­jured.

Azer­bai­jan’s Pres­i­dent Il­ham

 ?? (AFP) ?? A rel­a­tive mourn dur­ing the funeral of a cou­ple and their daugh­ter killed in a rocket at­tack, in the city of Ganja, Azer­bai­jan, on Satur­day
(AFP) A rel­a­tive mourn dur­ing the funeral of a cou­ple and their daugh­ter killed in a rocket at­tack, in the city of Ganja, Azer­bai­jan, on Satur­day

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