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Minggu, 27 September 2020

Deadly clash erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan in separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region - ABC News

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan has broken out around the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with both sides reporting fatalities.

Armenia said a woman and a child were killed in the area by shelling from Azerbaijani forces.

Baku said an unspecified number of Azerbaijani civilians had been killed and six wounded.

Armenia declared martial law and mobilised its male population after clashes with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mainly ethnic Armenian region inside Azerbaijan which declared independence in 1991.

Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh also announced martial law and mobilised the male population. They said 10 of its military staff had been killed.

Both sides blamed each other for the clashes — Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan said it had responded to Armenian shelling.

Military tanks, drones and helicopters destroyed

A still from footage shows blurry tank being engulfed in fire and black smoke.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for the attack.(AP: Armenian Defence Ministry)

The defence ministry in the Nagorno-Karabakh region said it had destroyed four of Azerbaijan's helicopters, 15 drones and 10 tanks during clashes.

Armenia's defence ministry said its troops had destroyed three tanks and shot down two helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicles in response to an attack on civilian targets including Nagorno-Karabakh's capital, Stepanakert.

"Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation," the ministry said in a statement.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Twitter: "We stay strong next to our army to protect our motherland from Azeri invasion."

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, with short hair and a moustache, gestures in a TV address between two flags.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addresses the nation after the attack, saying: "We defend our territory, our cause is right!"(AP: Azerbaijani Presidential Press Office)

Azerbaijan denied the Armenian defence ministry statement, saying it had "complete advantage over the enemy on the front", and accused Armenian forces of launching "deliberate and targeted" attacks along the front line.

"We defend our territory, our cause is right!" Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an address to the nation.

At least 200 people were killed in a flare-up of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016.

There are frequent skirmishes and at least 16 were reportedly killed in clashes in July.

Turkey condemns attack, Russia calls for ceasefire

Russia's foreign ministry, a mediator in decades of conflict between majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan, urged both sides to cease fire immediately and hold talks.

Men gather in the street wearing army camouflage and holding flags.
People attend a meeting to recruit military volunteers in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, after a clash with Azerbaijan.(Reuters: Melik Baghdasaryan/Photolure)

The news was harshly received in Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.

Turkey's ruling party spokesman Omer Celik tweeted: "We vehemently condemn Armenia's attack on Azerbaijan. Armenia has once against committed a provocation, ignoring law".

"While I call on the Armenian people to take hold of their future against their leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets, we also call on the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter.

A grainy image of a field with two tanks near a military vehicle engulfed in black smoke.
The self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh region is mainly made up of ethnic Armenians, but is located inside Azerbaijan.(AP: Armenian Defence Ministry)

Pope Francis appealed to Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve their differences after the latest clash.

"I pray for peace in the Caucasus and ask the parties in conflict to make concrete gestures of goodwill and brotherhood that can lead to the resolution of problems not with the use of force and weapons but through dialogue and negotiations," he said.

The two countries have long been at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed.

Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around the region.

Reuters/AP

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2020-09-27 13:24:00Z
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