At least seven Azerbaijani and two Armenian soldiers, as well as an Azerbaijani civilian, have been killed in the latest flare-up of a 30-year conflict between the two countries, bringing the total death toll to 14.
Clashes on the volatile border between the two South Caucasus nations began on Sunday, killing four Azerbaijani soldiers on Monday.
The neighbours have been locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. International efforts to settle the conflict have stalled.
Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have frequently engaged in clashes. The current skirmishes appear to mark the most serious spike in hostilities since 2016 when many were killed in four days of fighting.
Officials in both countries blamed each other for starting the latest violence and said sporadic shelling has continued.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said two senior officers, Major General Polad Hashimov and Colonel Ilgar Mirzayev, were killed in fighting on Tuesday along with five other servicemen.
Armenian officials claimed that Azerbaijani drones launched an attack on civilian infrastructure of the Tuvush province town of Berd.
Shushan Stepanyan, Armenia’s defence ministry spokeswoman, said one of the Azerbaijani drones was shot down.
As hostilities continued, Armenia also accused Azerbaijan of launching cyberattacks on Armenian government websites.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday accused Azerbaijan of provoking the clashes and warned that it would “bear responsibility for the unpredictable consequences”.
Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev denounced what he described as “another provocation of Armenia” and promised to protect Azerbaijan’s territory.
Turkey, which has close ethnic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, has voiced strong support to Baku in the conflict.
The United States and Russia, the co-chairs of the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that has tried to negotiate a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, have condemned the violence and called for restraint.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had separate calls with his counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday to urge an immediate ceasefire.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that Moscow was “deeply worried” about the fighting and stood ready to play mediator.
Source: News Agencies