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Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of ceasefire violations

April 26, 2016, 10:25 UTC+3 YEREVAN

The situation along the line of engagement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2 when fierce clashes began

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YEREVAN, April 26. /TASS/. The Azerbaijani army 15 times fired on the north-eastern section of the state border of Armenia overnight, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday.

"On the night to April 26, the Azerbaijani side 15 times opened fire on the state border of Armenia and Azerbaijan, using small arms and sniper weapons of different caliber; firing mainly sporadic bursts on the border positions" of the Armenian army, the report said.

The situation was restless on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh overnight. "On the night to April 26, the adversary more than 80 times violated the ceasefire agreement on the contact line between the opposing forces of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh", the ministry noted.

At present, the situation along the entire line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh is "relatively calm", the ministry said.

According to Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, Armenian forces have violated ceasefire regime 113 times over the last 24 hours.

Armenian forces used heavy machine guns and mortars of 60mm caliber, the defense ministry said adding that they shelled the positions of the Azerbaijani army in settlements along the border between the two countries and in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"In accordance with operational situation, Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire at positions and tranches of the enemy 114 times," the defense ministry said.

Overnight to April 27, Armenian forces "shelled the city of Terter and its vicinity from mortars, howitzers and DM-21 multiple artillery launcher system," the ministry added. "Azerbaijani Armed Forces delivered adequate response by opening fire only at military facilities of the adversary," it noted.

The situation along the line of engagement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2 when fierce clashes began. The parties to the conflict accused each other of violating the truce.

On April 5, Azerbaijan’s Chief of Staff Nadjmeddin Sadykov and his Armenian counterpart Yury Khachaturov met in Moscow with Russia’s mediation. At the talks the sides came to an agreement on cessation of hostilities at the line of engagement between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces. On the same day, the two countries’ defense ministries announced that the ceasefire regime in Nagorno-Karabakh would start at 12am local time. Since then the sides have been reporting occasional shootouts in the area of the contact line.

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was the first zone of inter-ethnic tensions and violence to appear on the map of the former USSR.

Even almost a quarter of a century after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Karabakh remains a so-called 'frozen conflict' on the post-Soviet space, as the region is the subject of a dispute between Azerbaijan and the local Armenian population that draws on strong support from fellow-countrymen in neighboring Armenia.

In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the government in Baku and Armenian residents, which resulted in the region's de facto independence. In 1994 a ceasefire was reached but the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia remain strained ever since then.

Russia, France and the United States co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which attempts to broker an end to hostilities and the conflict.

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