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Armenia Azerbaijan: Reports of fresh shelling dent ceasefire hopes

Summary

There have been reports of fresh shelling in Nagorno-Karabakh, just hours after a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan came into force. Blasts hit Stepanakert, the disputed region’s capital, on Saturday evening, say eyewitnesses and Armenian media. Both sides had previously […]

There have been reports of fresh shelling in Nagorno-Karabakh, just hours after a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan came into force.

Blasts hit Stepanakert, the disputed region’s capital, on Saturday evening, say eyewitnesses and Armenian media.

Both sides had previously accused the other of continuing bombardments in other areas.

After two weeks of fighting, the two countries agreed to a temporary truce during talks in Moscow on Friday.

The now-fragile ceasefire was to allow the two countries to exchange prisoners and recover bodies from the recent bout of fighting.

More than 300 people have died and thousands been displaced since the latest violence in the long-running conflict broke out on 27 September.

Nagorno-Karabakh is run by ethnic Armenians although it is officially part of Azerbaijan.

The two former Soviet republics have blamed each other for the latest outbreak of violence – the worst in decades.

Meanwhile US celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who is of Armenian heritage, announced on social media that she was donating $1m to a fund for Armenian victims of the conflict.

It was agreed after 10 hours of talks in the Russian capital, Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two countries would now begin “substantive” talks.

However, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan later described the talks as “rather difficult” and said Armenia wanted Nagorno-Karabakh to be recognised internationally as an independent state.

Self-declared Karabakh officials echoed this call and accused Azerbaijan of using ceasefire talks as cover to prepare fresh attacks.

Meanwhile, Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said not enough pressure had been put on Armenia during the talks and the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh could not remain as it was.

Azerbaijan expected to take control of more territory and the ceasefire would last only as long as it took for the Red Cross to arrange for bodies to be exchanged, he said.

Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan, said the truce was Armenia’s “last chance” to withdraw forces from the disputed territory.

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