Nagorno-Karabakh: ‘Humanitarian truce’ between Armenia and Azerbaijan breaks down inside hours

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 A local resident examines the ruins of a residential house destroyed in a shelling attack in Stepanakert on 17 October.

The defence ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating a new “humanitarian truce” in fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, hours after it was declared.

The truce, agreed upon on Saturday, came into force at midnight (11am Sunday AEDT).

It was the warring sides’ second attempt to declare a ceasefire to quell almost three weeks of clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh that have killed hundreds of people.

But Armenia’s defence ministry on Sunday said the Azerbaijani army had fired twice during the night and used artillery.

“The enemy fired at the vicinity of the Jabrail city, as well as the villages of this region … using mortars and artillery,” the Azerbaijian defence ministry said. It added that the Azerbaijani army “took adequate retaliatory measures”.

Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said Azerbaijani forces had launched an attack on the enclave’s military positions and there were casualties and wounded on both sides.

Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but populated by ethnic Armenians, has been the scene of deadly clashes since 27 September.

According to an official, but partial, toll more than 700 people have been killed in the clashes.

The mountainous western region of Azerbaijan has remained under separatist Armenian control since a 1994 ceasefire ended a brutal war that killed 30,000.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had last Saturday agreed to a ceasefire after 11 hours of talks mediated by Mr Lavrov in Moscow, but then both accused each other of violating the deal.

The new truce was announced on Saturday after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts by phone and called on sides to observe the truce that he mediated a week ago.

Russia, France and the United States belong to the Minsk Group, which has attempted to help resolve the conflict under the umbrella of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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