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Shelling Intensifies In Karabakh Conflict Zone


NAGORNO KARABAKH -- A view of a newly built natal center damaged by shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery in Stepanakert, October 28, 2020.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s two largest towns again came under rocket attack on Wednesday as deadly shelling of civilian areas in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone intensified following the collapse of a U.S.-brokered ceasefire deal.

The Karabakh capital Stepanakert was heavily shelled by Azerbaijani forces throughout the day. An RFE/RL correspondent heard several particularly loud explosions from a local bomb shelter early in the afternoon.

Some of the rockets struck Karabakh’s main civilian hospital and a maternity clinic adjacent to it. The hospital director, Mher Musayelian, said there were limited numbers of medical workers and patients at both medical establishments during the attack. None of them was seriously injured as a result.

There was also further damage inflicted on Stepanakert’s residential areas. No casualties were immediately reported there. Most of the city’s remaining residents continued to stay in basements and bomb shelters.

NAGORNO KARABAKH -- Medical workers take refuge in a basement of a hospital as doctors perform surgery during shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery in Stepanakert, October 28, 2020.
NAGORNO KARABAKH -- Medical workers take refuge in a basement of a hospital as doctors perform surgery during shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery in Stepanakert, October 28, 2020.

Karabakh authorities said that the shelling of the nearby town of Shushi (Shusha) left one person dead and two others wounded. It completely destroyed a local house and seriously damaged a school building located nearby.

“We are already used to such things. What can we do?” a middle-aged Shushi resident told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. He said he still has no plans to move to Armenia where tens of thousands of other Karabakh Armenians have taken refuge since the outbreak of the war on September 27.

For its part, Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of continuing to target Azerbaijani towns and villages located close to the Karabakh “line of contact.” It said one such rocket strike killed on Wednesday 14 residents of Barda, a town northeast of Karabakh.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov phoned the U.S., Russian and French diplomats leading the OSCE Minsk Group to discuss the reported strike.

AZERBAIJAN -- An investigator walks near a burnt car after shells hit a street in the town of Barda, October 28, 2020.
AZERBAIJAN -- An investigator walks near a burnt car after shells hit a street in the town of Barda, October 28, 2020.

The three mediators met with Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian in Washington late last week. In a joint statement, they said they will hold more talks with the two ministers in Geneva on Thursday to try to “reach agreement on, and begin implementation … of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

The statement came right after the announcement of a fresh Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement brokered by Washington. The ceasefire was due to come into force on Monday morning. Fighting in and around Karabakh has continued since then, however.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday that he is ready to meet with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Moscow “without any preconditions.”

“I don’t know how effective [such a meeting] would be … But if there is such a proposal [from Russia] we will positively consider it,” Aliyev told the Interfax news agency.

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