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Nagorno-Karabakh leader seriously wounded, Baku says

According to an aide to Azerbaijan’s president Hikmet Hajiyev, during the strike Arayik Harutyunyan "was in a bunker"

BAKU, October 4. /TASS/. The leader of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, was gravely wounded in a strike carried out by the Azerbaijani forces, Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide to Azerbaijan’s president, told a briefing on Sunday.

"During a surgical strike of the Azerbaijani army leader of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic Arayik Harutyunyan was seriously wounded," Hajiyev said.

According to Hajiyev, during the strike Harutyunyan "was in a bunker."

Meanwhile, Armenia’s government information center citing Harutyunyan’s spokesman Vagram Pogosyan denied Azerbaijan’s statement. "The Azerbaijanis today actively spread information that President Harutyunyan had been allegedly wounded. This does not correspond to reality," it said.

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.