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BAKU, May 5. /TASS/. Armenian forces have violated the ceasefire regime in various directions of the front line 116 times over the past 24 hours also using large-caliber machine guns and 60-mm mortars, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
The Azerbaijani army positions located in the settlements and highland along the border between the two countries and areas near Nagorno-Karabakh came under fire from the opposite side.
Azerbaijan’s forces retaliated with 122 fire strikes on the positions of the enemy, it said.
The Azerbaijani armed forces "used against Nagorno-Karabakh" small arms, mortars and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) of the TR-107 type overnight, the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
According to the ministry, "No change in the operational situation on the contact line of the conflict sides was recorded on the night to May 5." "The enemy continued to violate the ceasefire agreement, using firearms of various caliber, 60-mm mortars and TR-107 type rocket launchers", the ministry said.
According to the Defense Ministry of Armenia, "Advanced units of the Defense Army of Nagorno-Karabakh mostly refrained from response actions and took the necessary measures for the organization of reliable protection of their military positions throughout the line of contact."
The Armenian Defense Ministry also said that "overnight to May 5, the enemy fired sporadically from small arms and sniper weapons of different caliber on the border positions" of the Armenian army. "The Armed Forces of Armenia confidently control the situation on the border and take response actions adequate to the situation only if the enemy purposefully violates" the ceasefire regime, the ministry said.
The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh dramatically deteriorated on April 2, when the Karabakh conflict sides accused each other of violating truce along the front line. The claims came from defense authorities of Armenia and of Azerbaijan.
On April 5, Azerbaijan’s Chief of Staff Col. Gen. Nadjmeddin Sadykov and his Armenian counterpart Col. Gen. Yuri Khachaturov met in Moscow with Russia’s mediation. At the talks the sides reached an agreement on cessation of hostilities at the contact line between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces. On the same day, the defense ministries of the two countries announced that the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh would start at 12 am, local time (11:00 am, Moscow time). Since then, the sides have reported periodic short 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.