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Armenian, Azeri Forces Accuse Each Other of Shelling Far From Karabakh

BAKU/YEREVAN—Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Tuesday of firing into each others territory, far from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, as the worst spate of fighting since the 1990s raged for a third day and the civilian death toll mounted.

Dozens have been reported killed and hundreds wounded since the fierce clashes between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out on Sunday in a new eruption of a decades-old conflict.

An Azerbaijani service member drives an armoured carrier
An Azerbaijani service member drives an armoured carrier
An Azerbaijani service member drives an armored carrier and greets people, who gather on the roadside in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sept. 27, 2020. (Aziz Karimov/Reuters)

Azerbaijans President Ilham Aliyev said 10 civilians had been killed by Armenian shelling since Sunday. There was no official information about casualties among Azeri servicemen.

The Armenian defense ministry said an Armenian civilian bus in Vardenis—a town in Armenia at the border with Azerbaijan and far from Nagorno-Karabakh—caught fire after being hit by an Azeri drone, but no one appeared to be hurt. It said it was making further checks.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians and is supported by Armenia. It broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s, but is not recognized by any country as an independent republic.

An interior view shows a house, which locals said was damaged during a recent shelling by Azeri forces
An interior view shows a house, which locals said was damaged during a recent shelling by Azeri forces
An interior view shows a house, which locals said was damaged during a recent shelling by Azeri forces, in the town of Hadrut in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure via Reuters)

Any move to all-out war could drag in major regional powers Russia and Turkey. Moscow has a defense alliance with Armenia, which provides vital support to the enclave and is its lifeline to the outside world, while Ankara backs its own ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in phone calls with the countries leaders, government spokesman Steffen Seiber said on Tuesday.

An ambulance is seen at the entrance of a hospital in Stepanakert
An ambulance is seen at the entrance of a hospital in Stepanakert
An ambulance is seen at the entrance of a hospital in Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Hayk Baghdasaryan/Photolure via Reuters)

Counter-attacks

The Armenian defense ministry said in a statement that Azeri armed forces opened fire on a military unit in Vardenis, but that the situation was generally less tense on the border.

“The Armenian border with Azerbaijan is relatively calm”, defense ministry official Artsrun Hovhannisyan said.

Azerbaijans defense ministry said that from Vardenis the Armenian army had shelled the Dashkesan region inside Azerbaijan. Armenia denied those reports.

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