The Karabakh police said the Azerbaijani side targeted three villages bordering the Aghdam district east of Karabakh, using mortars and heavy machine guns. Nobody was hurt as a result.
One of those villages, Khnapat, was reportedly shelled throughout the day. A local farmer, Barsegh Avanesian, had to run for safety when a mortar shell exploded near his pomegranate grove in the morning.
“It landed about 300 meters from me,” Avanesian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Another one exploded five minutes later.”
The shelling interrupted classes in Khnapat’s school and kindergarten. Children attending them were evacuated by their parents, according to the school principal, Lyudmila Mosiyan.
“We started classed as usual at 9 o’clock in the morning,” said Mosiyan. “We heard the first explosions at around 10 a.m. We took the children down to the bomb shelter right after hearing the powerful sound of a second explosion. Then the parents came by car and escorted the students to their homes in an organized way.”
Also shelled, according to the local authorities, was the neighboring village of Khramort and adjacent farmland, the focal point of Azerbaijani gunfire reported over the past week. Russian peacekeeping troops set up two mobile observations posts there on Thursday in a bid to prevent further shelling.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has denied targeting civilians. It has accused Armenian forces of firing at its troops deployed in the Aghdam district.
Karabakh leaders maintain that Baku stepped up truce violations late last week as part of its efforts to spread panic among Karabakh Armenians and depopulate the disputed territory. They have linked the shelling to an apparent explosion that knocked out on Monday night the sole pipeline supplying natural gas to Karabakh from Armenia.
Karabakh households, schools and other essential facilities remained without gas for the fourth consecutive day. The authorities in Stepanakert said that Azerbaijani troops are still not allowing Karabakh utility workers and Russian peacekeepers to approach the site of the pipeline accident.
Citing the resulting lack of heating in Karabakh’s schools and kindergartens, the authorities decided on Friday to suspend classes there for a week.
Meanwhile, Armenia continued to react very cautiously to what is one of the most serious escalations of tensions in and around Karabakh since the 2020 war with Azerbaijan.
Amid reports of continuing ceasefire violations there, the Armenian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed Yerevan’s stated readiness to negotiate a “peace treaty” with Baku. The ministry spokesman, Vahan Hunanian, said in the evening that it will “probably” ask the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to organize Armenian-Azerbaijani talks for that purpose.
Azerbaijan has been pressing for such a treaty ever since its victory in the 2020 war. Azerbaijani leaders say that it must commit Armenia to recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.