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Armenia and Azerbaijan agree new Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

BAKU/YEREVAN: Armenia and Azerbaijan said they had agreed on Saturday to a new humanitarian ceasefire from midnight (2000 GMT) in fighting over Azerbaijan’s ethnic Armenian-controlled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both sides had accused each other earlier of fresh attacks in violation of a week-old Russian-brokered truce that had failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.

Azerbaijan had said 13 civilians had been killed and more than 50 wounded in the city of Ganja by missiles from Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia, which supports Nagorno-Karabakh politically and economically and sends volunteers to serve in its army, accused Azerbaijan of shelling populated areas of the enclave and bombing targets in Armenia.

The fighting is the worst in the region since Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces went to war in the 1990s over Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

Both countries announced the ceasefire in identical statements.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had talked to his Armenian and Azeri counterparts by phone on Saturday and stressed that the truce that he mediated a week ago must be observed, Moscow said.

Russia, France and the United States belong to the Minsk Group, which has attempted to help resolve the conflict under the umbrella of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Nagorno-Karabakh’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it “reaffirms its readiness to maintain the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire on a reciprocal basis … according to the Moscow statement of Oct. 10 and the agreements of Oct. 17”.

Armenia speaks to Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh’s behalf as Baku refuses to negotiate with the separatist authorities.

Yerevan says its own forces are not involved in the conflict and have not attacked Azerbaijan. Many Armenian citizens, including the prime minister’s son, serve as volunteers in Nagorno-Karabakh’s army.

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