Sunday, 3 April 2016

Armenian News... BBC News Dozens dead in worst Nagorno-Karabakh violence for decades

  • 2 hours ago
  • From the section Europe
Media captionThe BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Tbilisi, Georgia, says that people in Nagorno-Karabakh live under "daily threat of war"
Dozens of people have been killed in clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the disputed Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia said 18 ethnic-Armenian soldiers had died in the fighting, among the worst in two decades.
Azerbaijan said it had lost 12 troops and there were unconfirmed reports of civilian deaths on both sides.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been in the hands of ethnic-Armenian separatists since a war that ended in 1994.
Russia, which has sold arms to both sides, called for an immediate ceasefire and for both sides to exercise restraint.
Azerbaijan said its armed forces had come under fire first from large-calibre artillery and grenade-launchers, and that it had taken over two strategic hills and a village.
A picture obtained from the Nagorno-Karabakh defence authorities' official website reportedly shows the remains of the downed Azerbaijani Mi-24 helicopter in a fieldImage copyrightAFP
Image captionNagorno-Karabakh's military had images on its website reportedly showing a downed Azerbaijani helicopter
An image from footage obtained from the Nagorno-Karabakh defence authorities' official website reportedly shows houses damaged in the fightingImage copyrightAFP
Image captionBoth sides reported civilian casualties in the fighting
Armenian men gather at a military commissariat to join the Nagorno-Karabakh defence militia (02/04/2016)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThe fighting prompted a rush of potential recruits to Nagorno-Karabakh's military
The Armenian government said Azerbaijan had launched a "massive attack" with tanks, artillery and helicopters. 
The Armenian-backed defence ministry in Karabakh said a 12-year-old boy had been killed and two other children injured.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has spoken with his Armenian and Azeri counterparts - Seyran Ohanyan and Zakir Hasanov - by phone, Interfax reported, in an effort to calm the situation.
Fighting between the two sides began in the late 1980s and escalated into full-scale war in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed, killing about 30,000 people before a ceasefire in 1994.
The region, which lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians, has since run its own affairs with Armenian military and financial backing, but clashes break out on a regular basis.
Map of Nagorno-Karabakh

Analysis: Konul Khalilova, BBC Azeri

The fighting that erupted on Friday night is some of the worst since a 1994 ceasefire between the two sides. Azerbaijan says it has taken back two strategically important villages from the Armenian army, a claim denied by Armenia. As usual, both sides say the other pulled the trigger first. 
There are reports of civilian casualties on both sides. Witnesses told the BBC's Azeri service that people were being evacuated from villages near to the conflict zone and that others were hiding in basements. 
Both President Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Armenia's President Sargsyan are on their way back from the international nuclear summit in Washington.
Azerbaijan has purchased at least $4bn worth of arms from Russia. Armenia, an important strategic partner of Russia in the Caucasus, also buys weapons from Russia. There are concerns that the fighting could lead to a more wide-scale military conflict. 
Leaders on both sides have been blamed for not making enough effort to achieve peace and instead using the conflict as a tool to stay in power. Nationalist sentiment boosted by pro-government media in both societies has been at its height in recent years. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has expressed "grave concern" over the reported large-scale ceasefire violations.
The co-chairmen of the body's Minsk Group - ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, James Warlick of the US, and Pierre Andrieu of France - issued a joint statement saying: "We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians.
"The co-chairs call upon the sides to stop shooting and take all necessary measures to stabilise the situation on the ground. They reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict and that war is not an option."

Frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh

  • The conflict has roots dating back over a century to competition between Christian Armenian and Muslim Turkic and Persian influences
  • Frictions exploded into violence when the region's parliament voted to join Armenia in the late 1980s
  • The ethnic Azeri population - about 25% of the total before the war - fled Karabakh and Armenia while ethnic Armenians fled the rest of Azerbaijan
  • Russian-brokered ceasefire signed in 1994, leaving Karabakh and swathes of Azeri territory around the enclave in Armenian hands
  • Progress on a peace process stalled after talks between Armenian and Azeri leaders in 2009. Serious ceasefire violations have followed
  • Karabakh is a word of Turkic and Persian origin meaning "black garden", while "Nagorno" is a Russian word meaning "mountain"

The Armenian Weekly

Update: Azerbaijan Launches Wide Scale Attack on NKR

Attack Repelled; Casualties Include 12-Year-Old Artsakh Boy

Azerbaijan launched a full-blown attack on multiple positions of the Nagorno-Karabagh contact line overnight on April 1-2.
Azerbaijan launched a full-blown attack on multiple positions of the Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh, NKR) contact line overnight on April 1-2. The Azerbaijani army employed tanks, military helicopters, drones, and various caliber weapons in an assault targeting the Line of Contact on the southern, southeastern, and northeastern fronts. The NKR Defense Army retaliated, and, according to the NKR Defense Ministry Twitter page, brought down two helicopters and two drones, and destroyed three tanks. There are multiple casualties on both sides; Azerbaijan has reported 12 combatant casualties. Civilians have also been targeted. According to reports, 12-year-old Vaghinag Grigoryan was killed in the Marduni region, while two other children were wounded, from a Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher attack.
During an emergency meeting of Armenia’s National Security Council held on the evening of April 2, Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian announced that as a result of the attacks, the Armenian side suffered 18 casualties, while 35 people were injured. Azerbaijan’s losses—including air force, personnel, and armored vehicles—were “significant,” he added, according to PanArmenian.
A number of Armenian soldiers wounded in the attack are being flown to Yerevan for medical treatment, according to Meanwhile NKR President’s spokesperson Davit Babayan told Civilnet that the number of Azerbaijani casualties are in the dozens, if not hundreds. Babayan told that the situation is now relatively calm following the overnight attacks.
According to reports, Sarkisian was briefed on the attack midair, on his way to Yerevan from Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, NKR Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan immediately returned to Artsakh from Yerevan.
The site of the downed Azerbaijani helicopter (Photo: Artsakh Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for an immediate ceasefire. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reached out to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts—Seyran Ohanyan and Zakir Hasanov—to quell the situation.
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian called for immediate Obama Administration action to stop Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest attacks against Nagorno-Karabagh—the worst since the ceasefire established in 1994.
The attack comes after the conclusion of the 4th Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.; participants to the summit included Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Aliyev met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Azerbaijani president’s official website, “[Biden] said the USA resolutely supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, adding that this was of great importance for the United States.”
The ANCA strongly criticized Biden’s meeting with Aliyev. “Vice President Biden, in personally meeting Azerbaijani President Aliyev in this manner—without any public challenge to his escalating regional aggression and worsening domestic repression—openly emboldened his belligerence while actively undermining American efforts to keep the peace and reach a negotiated settlement,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
The ANCA also criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for failing to mention concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s track record of ceasefire—as well as domestic human rights—violations to Aliyev. “Secretary Kerry in his public remarks with President Aliyev, regretfully, made no mention at all of any American concerns regarding President Aliyev’s threats and acts of violence or his crackdown on domestic dissent. There has, as well, been no mention, in the public record, of the life-saving Royce-Engel peace proposals that the State Department has publicly supported.”
“The Obama Administration’s failure, in Washington, to confront Azerbaijan’s aggression gave Aliyev the green light to launch these attacks on Karabagh,” said Hamparian.  “Immediate action must be taken by the Obama Administration to stop President Aliyev’s latest attacks, along with concrete steps to ensure a lasting peace in the region which respects the right to self-determination and freedom for the people of Nagorno Karabagh.”
Meanwhile the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group—Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, James Warlick of the U.S., and Pierre Andrieu of France—issued a statement expressing “grave concern” over the ceasefire violations. “We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians,” read the statement. “The Co-Chairs call upon the sides to stop shooting and take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground. They reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict and that war is not an option.”
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Supreme Body in Armenia also issued a statement condemning the attack, and declaring that the ARF stands beside NKR’s and Armenia’s governments to safeguard the security of both governments and their populations, reported Aztag Daily. The ARF also called upon all Armenian organizations and the public to respond to Azerbaijan’s aggression in a unified manner and impose peace on the aggressor.
The ANCA has urged the public to take action by sending a webmail to President Obama, Congress, and the OSCE Karabagh negotiators urging them to take immediate action to stop Baku’s latest attacks. 

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