Azerbaijan says four civilians killed in Armenian missile attack
Azerbaijan on Oct. 27 said that Armenia carried out a missile attack on the town of Barda near the frontline with Nagorno-Karabakh that killed four people.
Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said on Twitter that a toddler was among the dead and that 10 people were wounded, accusing Armenia of an "indiscriminate and targeted attack against civilians."
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Oct. 27 to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the State Department said in a statement.
Pompeo spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev separately, the department said.
"Secretary Pompeo pressed the leaders to abide by their commitments to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," it said, "and noted that there is no military solution to this conflict."
The cease-fire agreed upon on Oct. 25 after talks facilitated by the United States, came after two failed attempts by Russia to broker a lasting truce in the flare-up of a decades-old conflict. All three cease-fire agreements were immediately challenged by reports of violations from both sides.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. By then, Armenian forces not only held Nagorno-Karabakh itself but also captured substantial areas outside the territory's borders.
The latest fighting, which began Sept. 27 has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, in the largest escalation of hostilities over the separatist region in the quarter-century since the war ended.
According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 1,009 of their troops and 39 civilians have been killed in the clashes so far, while 122 civilians have been wounded. Azerbaijani authorities haven't disclosed their military losses, but say the fighting has killed 65 civilians and wounded nearly 300.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that, according to Moscow's information, the death toll from the fighting was nearing 5,000, significantly higher than what both sides report.
Russia, the United States and France have co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the conflict, but their attempts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled.
The new cease-fire deal brokered by the U.S. came out of negotiations Washington facilitated over the weekend involving the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and co-chairs of the Minsk Group.
The group's co-chairs on Oct. 25 announced another meeting with the two foreign ministers in Geneva on Oct. 29, but it remains unclear whether the talks would yield any progress.
Aliyev has said that, to end hostilities, Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. He has insisted that Azerbaijan has the right to reclaim its territory by force since international mediators have failed.
In an address to the nation on Oct. 26, Aliyev said that Azerbaijani forces have retaken control over several areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Aliyev on Oct. 26 once again took aim at the Minsk Group, accusing its co-chairs of not achieving results in 28 years and working on "freezing the conflict" instead of resolving it, offering ``just promises, just bureaucratic procedures.''