A day after a ceasefire came into force, Azerbaijan on October 11 said that shelling by Armenia on the country’s second-largest city had left seven people dead. While taking to Twitter, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said that a new nightly missile attack by Armenian forces on a residential area of Ganja left seven dead and 33 wounded including children. Blasts hit Stepanakert, which the disputed region’s capital, on Saturday evening after the two countries had agreed to a temporary truce during talks in Moscow on Friday.
The new fight between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which erupted on September 27, is considered to be the heaviest in decades. Hundreds of people have been killed in the past week, including several civilians. The now-fragile ceasefire was to allow the two former Soviet republics to exchange prisoners and recover bodies from the recent bout of fighting.
After almost 10 hours of talks in the Russian capital Moscow, the two countries had agreed to a ceasefire and begin ‘substantive’ talks over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan had later described the talks as ‘rather difficult’ and had said that Armenia wanted Nagorno-Karabakh to be recognised internationally as an independent state.
After Saturday evening’s shelling, while Azerbaijan said that Armenia was ‘blatantly violating’ the ceasefire regime and firing into the Azeri regions, Armenia, on the other hand, said that Azeri forces had launched an attack five minutes after the truce had been due to come into effect, with ethnic Armenian forces responding. According to a BBC report, the self-declared ethnic Armenian authorities had said that Azerbaijan fired missiles at civilian neighbourhoods of the main city, Stepanakert, while Armenia accused Azeri forces of intensifying drone strikes.
Meanwhile, the fight between the two countries has raised international concern about stability in the South Caucasus, where pipelines carry Azeri oil and gas to world markets. With fears of the clashes expanding into an all-out, multi-front war, there is a possibility that the fighting could also suck in regional powers Turkey and Russia. While Ankara is Azerbaijan’s strongest supporter, Moscow, on the other hand, has a military base in Armenia. Earlier, Armenia even accused Turkey of supplying fighters to the conflict, drawing them out of northern-Syria.