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Fresh Shelling Reported In Karabakh


NAGORNO KARABAKH -- A man walks in front of a destroyed house after a late October 7th sheling in Stepanakert, October 8, 2020.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert and other towns were reportedly shelled again on Saturday night almost one day after Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement.

Karabakh officials said Azerbaijani forces fired at least two rockets at Stepanakert late in the evening. The Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported two powerful explosions there at around the same time.

A spokesman for Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said shortly after midnight that the towns of Shushi and Martuni as well as “various large rural communities” of Karabakh are also being targeted by the Azerbaijani artillery.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said earlier in the evening that Armenian forces shelled two Azerbaijani villages east of Karabakh, killing one of their residents.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry rejected the claim as “disinformation” aimed at justifying Baku’s failure to comply with the truce agreement reached early on Saturday as a result of marathon talks held in Moscow by the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

The conflicting parties accused each other of continuing to violate the ceasefire as the agreement came into force at noon.

In particular, Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army said Azerbaijani forces attacked some of its frontline positions. It also alleged an Azerbaijani commando raid on the southern Karabakh town of Hadrut. Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman, Artak Beglarian, said the Azerbaijani soldiers killed two local civilians before being mostly driven out of Hadrut.

The Azerbaijani military said, for its part, that the Armenian side attempted “counterattacks” at several sections of the frontline.

An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman told reporters at 9 p.m. local time that the truce is now largely holding. Stepanakert came under fresh rocket fire two hours later.

The reported truce violations led Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to speak with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts by phone. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, each of them assured Lavrov that his country is committed to halting the hostilities that broke out on September 27.

The three ministers negotiated for more than 10 hours before announcing the ceasefire agreement welcomed by the international community.

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