• publish: 11 October 2020
  • time: 4:34 pm
  • category: International
  • No: 15671

Despite Armenia, Azerbaijan ceasefire, tensions run high

A Russian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan was under severe strain on Sunday as each side accused the other of violating the terms of the truce.

The ceasefire, which came into effect at midday on Saturday, was meant to halt fighting to allow ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azeri forces to swap prisoners and war dead, Reuters reported.

The enclave is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

But on Sunday, both sides accused one another of breaking the ceasefire almost immediately on Saturday, and Azerbaijan gave the impression in public comments from top officials that it saw it as only a brief and temporary breathing space anyway, Reuters stated.

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of heavily shelling a residential area in Ganja, its second-largest city, in the early hours of the morning, and of hitting an apartment building.

Azerbaijan officials said five people had been killed and 28 wounded in the attack.

The Armenian defense ministry meanwhile called the Azeri allegations “an absolute lie” and accused Azerbaijan of continuing to shell populated areas inside Karabakh, including Stepanakert, the region’s biggest city.

However, a Reuters photographer in Ganja saw rescue workers carrying one dead person from the ruins of a large apartment building on Sunday morning. The structure had been almost leveled. An excavator was clearing the debris.

Buildings and cars in the immediate vicinity had also been severely damaged.

Bloomberg meanwhile reported that Azerbaijan said at least seven civilians were killed and 33 others were injured when Ganca, the country’s second-largest city, was bombed Sunday by Armenians. 

Armenia and the defense ministry of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh denied firing toward Ganca while saying two civilians were killed in the city of Hadrut.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted his counterparts from the two former Soviet republics in Moscow for negotiations that ran for more than 10 hours overnight Friday to Saturday. 

However, Arayik Harutyunyan, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, said at a media briefing on Sunday the situation was relatively calm now along the contact line. 

But Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported continued fighting in the south of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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