Updated, with Minsk Group co-chair statement, at 0900 GMT on Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Azerbaijan has expressed outrage after a woman and her grand daughter were killed as a result of Armenian shelling on the line of contact in the district of Fizuli on Tuesday evening (4 July). Both sides report serious cease fire violations in the area around 20.30 local time. Another civilian, the mother of the killed child, is reported to be gravely injured. (read more)
Azerbaijan says that the casualties were the result of Armenian shelling of the village of Akhanli, close to the line of contact between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. Both sides accuse each other of cease fire violations in the area yesterday evening. Armenia has confirmed that it shelled the area, saying this was a response to previous Azerbaijani cease fire violations on the same evening.
In a statement to the press, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hikmet Hajiev, accused Armenian forces of deliberately targeting civilians. Hajiev said that through its actions Armenia was violating the Geneva conventions and other instruments of international law. Outrage was also expressed by villagers in Akhanli and nearby settlements.
On its part Armenia said that it shelled the area to silence Azerbaijani fire coming from military objects that were using the village as a cover, and accused Azerbaijan of using civilians as human shields.
The incident highlights increasing danger for the civilian population on the Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact, as tension in the conflict continues to increase at a time when the negotiations on the peac eful settlement of the conflict appear stalled.
In a statement issued this morning the three co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Process, Ambassador Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Stephane Visconti of France, and Ambassador Richard Hoagland of the United States said they had "received information of renewed violence late in the evening on 4 July at Alkhanli village of Fizuli region that resulted in casualties, including civilians". They urgently called upon the sides "to cease military action". "Violence only begets further violence and accomplishes nothing. The only responsible and humane way to resolve this long-standing conflict is for the sides to return to the negotiation table in good faith", the diplomats said in their statement in which they also extended their condolences to the families of the victims.
source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Casualties from the cease fire violations in the karabakh conflict zone on 4 July 2017 (picture courtesy of APA news agency, Baku)
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan told Armenian MPs discussions on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict will continue in June in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group process.
On Tuesday, Armenian foreign ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan told the Armenian media that the Azerbaijani side was carrying out engineering works at the Nakhchivan sector of the border, and that this "poses a danger to Armenian military positions".