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Azerbaijan, Armenia trade accusations of violating new cease-fire

Azerbaijan rescuers carry a body of a local resident killed by shelling in Ganja, Azerbaijan, on Oct. 11. Photo by Aziz Karimov/EPA-EFE
Azerbaijan rescuers carry a body of a local resident killed by shelling in Ganja, Azerbaijan, on Oct. 11. Photo by Aziz Karimov/EPA-EFE

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan accused the other of breaching a humanitarian cease-fire within minutes of it going into effect.

A spokeswoman for Armenia's Ministry of Defense accused Azerbaijan of resuming shelling and firing artillery at 12:04 a.m. Sunday while Azerbaijan said Armenia started firing on Jabrayil city at 12:02 a.m.

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"The gross violation of the humanitarian cease-fire by Armenia, already for the second time after its formal declaration demonstrates the continuation of the aggressive policy of Armenia against Azerbaijan and its reluctance to the negotiated settlement of the conflict," the Azerbaijan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "It is also an open disrespect by Armenia to the efforts of the mediators."

Armenia's Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan accused Azerbaijan of launching a "large-scale offensive operation."

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Shushan Stepanyan, the Armenian defense ministry spokeswoman, said in a statement Monday that Azerbaijan overnight targeted civilian facilities in the communities of Martuni, Urekan, Ishkhanadzor, Aygehovit and Vurgavan.

The two countries on Saturday agreed to a second temporary cease-fire agreement beginning midnight Sunday to stop fighting over control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is administered by ethnic Armenians but is located in Azerbaijan.

The area has been a source of contention between the two countries since the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s, but fighting re-igniting Sept. 27 when Armenia called for it to be internationally recognized as an independent state. Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of attempting to seize the land.

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The two sides initially agreed to a cease-fire that took effect Oct. 10, but was followed within 24 hours by renewed fighting.

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