Armenia and Armenia-backed ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said that the region’s capital city, Stepanakert, and other towns, including nearby Shushi (Shusha) and Martakert in the north-east, have come under bombardment and rocket fire of the Azerbaijani military, causing casualties among the civilian population in recent days.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian Defense Army said that Azerbaijan has used Smerch multiple launch rocket systems in shelling the towns overnight.
“This is yet another war crime committed by the Azerbaijani leadership. The criminal leadership of Azerbaijan bears the whole responsible for further escalation of the situation,” it claimed in a statement released on October 29.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry in its turn claimed that Armenian forces shelled the Azerbaijani districts of Barda and Goranboy located north of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The de facto Defense Ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh said on October 29 that 51 more casualties have taken its military death toll to 1,116 since fighting with Azerbaijani forces erupted on September 27.
Azerbaijan does not disclose its military losses, but authorities in Baku say the fighting has killed 69 civilians and wounded 322. Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have also reported dozens of civilians killed and wounded since the start of the hostilities.
The reports of fresh fighting and targeting of civilians came three days after another ceasefire agreed by the warring sides collapsed.
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to hold meetings with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Geneva, Switzerland, this week in a new effort to reach ceasefire and discuss further settlement of the long-running conflict.
The United States, France, and Russia are the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, which has been the main mediator in the conflict.
The Minsk Group said the meetings would be held “to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The meetings are originally scheduled for October 29. But through his spokesperson today Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that his meeting with the mediators had been rescheduled for October 30.