AP and AFP, YEREVAN and STEPANAKERT, Azerbaijan
Despite a second attempt at a ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan yesterday traded accusations of violating the new truce in their conflict over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The truce, which was announced on Saturday and took force at midnight, was the second attempt to establish a ceasefire since heavy fighting between Armenian and Azeri forces broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 27.
It came after a missile strike on Saturday hit a residential area of Azerbaijan’s second city, Ganja, killing 13 people, including small children.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev described the Ganja attack as a war crime and vowed his army would “take revenge on the battlefield.”
The two sides have described Saturday’s agreement as a “humanitarian truce” to allow for the exchange of prisoners and bodies.
Armenian military officials yesterday reported artillery shelling and missile strikes by Azerbaijani forces in the conflict zone, starting just minutes after the ceasefire took effect.
In the morning, “the enemy launched an attack in the southern direction,” and there were “casualties and wounded on both sides,” Armenian Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian said.
The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Azerbaijan had also launched an attack in a southern area of the Karabakh front line, while the Azeri Ministry of Defense maintained that Armenian forces used mortars and artillery in the conflict zone overnight despite the ceasefire and in the morning attempted attacks in several directions.
Armenia was in “gross violation” of the ceasefire and showing “open disrespect” for the efforts of international mediators, the Azeri Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baku said.
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