Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry claims to have launched “anti-terrorist” operations in its separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, under Armenian control.
Tensions have been high for months around the ethnic Armenian enclave, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
Eleven Azerbaijani police officers and civilians were reportedly killed in a mine explosion and another incident.
Air raid sirens were reported in Karabakh’s main city.
Defense officials in the breakaway region said the Azerbaijani army had “violated the ceasefire across the entire line of contact with missile and artillery strikes.” Other Karabakh representatives spoke of a “large-scale military offensive.”
The two neighbors, Azerbaijan and Armenia, went to war twice over Nagorno-Karabakh, first in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and again in 2020.
Since December, Azerbaijan has de facto blocked the only access route to the enclave from Armenia, known as the Lachin Corridor.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry in Baku accused Armenian forces of “systematic shelling” of military positions and said it responded by launching “local counterterrorism activities… to disarm and ensure the withdrawal of the forces’ formations Armenian armies of our territory.” territories”.
He insisted he was not targeting civilians or civilian facilities, but said “only legitimate military targets are neutralized through the use of high-precision weapons.”
The Armenian Defense Ministry said allegations of Armenian shooting did not correspond to reality.
The sound of artillery and gunfire could be heard Tuesday from Khankendi, the regional capital of Karabakh, known as Stepanakert to Armenians. An estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians live in this mountainous enclave.
Armenian officials added that as of 2:00 p.m. (10:00 GMT), the situation on the country’s borders was “relatively stable.”
In a statement, Russia urged both countries to respect the ceasefire signed after the war in 2020. EU regional special representative Toivo Klaar said there was “an urgent need to ‘an immediate ceasefire’.
During this six-week conflict, Azerbaijan reconquered the territories surrounding Karabakh, held by Armenia since 1994.
A fragile ceasefire, maintained by some 3,000 Russian peacekeepers, has since come under increasing pressure, with Moscow’s attention diverted by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently said that Russia was “spontaneously leaving the region.”
Azerbaijan has denied deploying troops to the region and on Monday authorized assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross to Karabakh on two routes, one via the Lachin corridor from Armenia and the other on the road to Aghdam in Azerbaijan.