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Azerbaijan Accuses Nagorno-Karabakh Separatists Of Violating Cease-Fire

  • RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

Azerbaijan has accused Armenian-backed separatists in its breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of violating a cease-fire agreed between the two sides.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said in a statement on April 7 that the separatists violated the cease-fire 119 times in the last 24 hours.

Separately, the Defense Ministry claimed that Armenian forces shelled several districts in Azerbaijan's Naxcivan exclave.

Naxcivan is surrounded by Armenia, Iran, and Turkey.

On a visit to Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized Moscow's special role as mediator in the conflict.

"Beyond all doubt, we are interested -- maybe more than the other foreign partners of these two countries -- in this conflict being settled as soon as possible," Lavrov said after meeting his Azerbaijani counterpart on April 7.

Lavrov noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to urge an end to the violence, and that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was traveling to Armenia on April 7, then onto Azerbaijan the next day.

Since the cease-fire took effect on April 5, Azerbaijan and the separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh have said the situation along the "line of contact," which effectively serves as a front line separating the combatant sides, remains tense but calm.

The cease-fire came after fighting erupted on April 2. The four days of ensuing fighting was the deadliest flare-up over the mountainous South Caucasus enclave in decades.

Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly Armenian-populated region from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people. Diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict have brought little progress.

With reporting by Reuters
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