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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Azerbaijan launches operation against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Azerbaijan said on Tuesday it had begun an “anti-terrorist” campaign in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, targeting what it said were Armenian military installations and infrastructure. Armenia denied having any troops or equipment in the region, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but largely populated by ethnic Armenians.

The operation, which Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said was ongoing, sparked fears of a new war in the region, which has been the scene of two previous conflicts over Karabakh. The last one, in 2020, ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Armenia cede large parts of the territory to Azerbaijan.

The latest escalation came after Azerbaijan accused Armenia of planting landmines in the Azeri-controlled Khojavend district, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan said at least six people died in two separate incidents on Tuesday due to the landmines. Armenia rejected the accusations and blamed Azerbaijan for violating the ceasefire.

Local authorities said the city was under heavy bombardment by Azerbaijani forces and urged residents to take shelter. They also said that several villages in the region were attacked and that there were civilian casualties.

Russia, which has about 2,000 peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor the ceasefire, expressed “deep alarm” over the situation and called on both sides to respect the truce. The United Nations also urged restraint and dialogue to avoid further violence.

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