Armenia, Azerbaijan trade accusations during cease-fire

Armenia, Azerbaijan trade accusations during cease-fire

YEREVAN - Agence France-Presse
Armenia, Azerbaijan trade accusations during cease-fire

Ethnic Armenian soldiers stand next to a cannon at an artillery position near Nagorno Karabakh's town of Martuni. REUTERS photo

Armenia and Azerbaijan on April 9 traded accusations over the shelling of each other's territory in violation of a days-old cease-fire aimed at halting a flareup of violence over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region.

The two former-Soviet neighbors exchanged fire overnight but there were no reports of casualties.

A Moscow-mediated truce went into effect on April 5 after the worst outbreak of violence since the 1990s, but some clashes have continued, with two people reported killed on April 8.

The Armenian defense ministry said Azerbaijan fired on the border area in northern Tavush region 16 times, including with "large caliber" weaponry, but said the intensity of shooting had "subsided."

It said two bodies were recovered during a search along the contact line between Azerbaijan and the separatist Nagorno Karabakh region, hiking the overall toll from the clashes to at least 92.

Baku in turn said Armenia used 60-mm mortars and other firepower to "violate the ceasefire 120 times" overnight, firing on Azeri positions in northern Gazakh, Tovuz and Agstafa regions, among others.

Separatist authorities in Nagorno Karabakh also accused Azerbaijan of shelling its position in the disputed area.

Armenia-backed separatists seized control of Nagorno Karabakh, which is located inside Azerbaijan's territory but populated mainly by Christian ethnic Armenians, in an early 1990s war that claimed some 30,000 lives.

It ended in 1994 with a ceasefire.

Shooting along the contact line with Nagorno Karabakh as well the Azeri-Armenian border had been a regular occurrence for years.

World leaders have urged Baku and Yerevan to refrain from further violence and to step up efforts aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the protracted conflict.