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YEREVAN, April 5. /TASS/. At least 20 people were killed in Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh since the outbreak of combat clashes along the line of contact separating the Karabakh forces and the Azerbaijani army units, the Armenian Defense Ministry said quoting the Chief of Self-Defense Army Operations Staff, Col Viktor Arstamian.
Another 72 people have been wounded and 26 are missing, he said.
One of the dead is a child and three are peaceful civilians. Also, the Karabakh self-defense forces have lost seven tanks.
According to the data provided by Col Arstamian, the Azerbaijani army lost 300 servicemen in killed. Karabakh self-defense units have destroyed eighteen tanks, two helicopters, three infantry combat vehicles, six drones, an engineering vehicle, and a Grad multiple launch system.
Col Arstamian said the Azerbaijani side did not control a single populated locality in Nagorno-Karabakh at the moment.
He admitted however that the self-defense forces had withdrawn from eight positions.
"The enemy has managed to move 200 meters to 300 meters forward in some places," Col Artamian said.
Azerbaijani army has used Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers last night in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
"The caliber of the weapons used by the Azerbaijani side increases every day," the defense ministry said. "Overnight to April 5, the enemy used Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers in the southern direction of the contact line," the ministry added.
"At the same time, shellings of peaceful settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh and positions of Defense Army continue along the contact line," the defense ministry noted. "The Azerbaijani side still actively uses unmanned aerial vehicles, one of which was downed by the Karabakh side," the ministry said.
On Saturday, April 2, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh rapidly deteriorated when the parties to the Karabakh conflict accused each other of violating truce along the front line. The claims came from defense authorities of Armenia and of Azerbaijan.
Neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan fell out with each other in the late 1980s because of Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians.
In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.
Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh have been held on the basis of the so-called Madrid Principles suggested by co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Russia, France and the United States in December 2007 in the Spanish capital. They include three key principles written in the Helsinki Final Act: refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination.