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Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of violations in new cease-fire

Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of violations in new cease-fire
A temporary cease-fire went into effect at 4 a.m. Saturday. Photo courtesy of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry/EPA-EFE

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Hours after a cease-fire went into effect, Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday accused each other of violating the tenuous agreement to halt fighting.

The Russian-mediated cease-fire was implemented to bring a temporary stop to fighting over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. The region is administered by ethnic Armenians but is located within Azerbaijan's borders. The two countries have disagreed over its control since the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s.

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Representatives engaged in talks in Moscow on Friday, agreed to a cease-fire that went into effect at 4 a.m. Saturday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the halt of fighting was for humanitarian purposes to allow the two sides to exchange prisoners and bodies of the dead.

Hikmet Hajiyev, the assistant the the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said Armenia violated the agreement.

"Azerbaijan has no claims to the territory of any other state. The goal is to ensure our territorial integrity. If Armenia continues its provocations to violate the cease-fire, Azerbaijan must respond," he said.

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said the talks were "rather difficult." Karabakh officials accused Azerbaijan of using the cease-fire talks as a cover to get ready for new attack.

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The two countries have been involved in intense fighting since Sept. 27. Armenia is calling for the Nagorno-Karabakh territory to be recognized internationally as an independent state. But Azerbaijan says it wants to seize more land.

More than 300 people have died in the fighting and thousands displaced.

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