Baku, Yerevan accuse each other of shelling, violating truce
BAKU/YEREVAN (AZERBAIJAN/ARMENIA) – Both Azerbaijan and Armenia traded accusations on Saturday of triggering fresh attacks in violation of a truce brokered by Russia.
Azerbaijan said 13 civilians were killed and 50 others injured in the city of Ganja in an Armenian missile attack. On the other hand, Yerevan accused Baku of continued shelling in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The fighting in the region is the worst since the civil war of the 90s over the disputed mountain territory recognised by the international community as belonging to Azerbaijan and ruled by ethnic Armenians.
According to the Azeri Prosecutor General’s office, a residential area in Ganja, the second largest city in the country, was targeted by missiles and 20 apartment complexes suffered damage. However, Armenia has denied the claim.
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan accused Armenia of indulging in a war crime by shelling Ganja.
“They will be held responsible for that … If the international community does not punish Armenia, we will do it,” he said.
He said troops have retaken two regions earlier held by separatists, Fizuli and Jabrail.
“We are dominating the battlefield,” he said, adding that his troops never targeted civilian settlements.
He also cast aspersions on Armenia’s ability to keep replacing destroyed military hardware in battles, which is seen as a veiled jibe at Russia, an Armenian ally.
He said Azeri troops will not stop the offensive as long as Armenia fails to withdraw from the disputed region.
On Saturday morning, rescue workers in Ganja picked through rubble. Some houses were completely destroyed.
“We have been living in fear for days … We are suffering a lot. We would rather die. I wish we were dead but our children would survive,” said Emina Aliyeva, 58.
The Armenian defence ministry rebuffed the Azeri claim and accused the country of shelling populated areas within Nagorno-Karabakh, which include Stepanakert, the biggest city.
The ministry said three civilians were injured in Azeri firing.