Continued clashes in and around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan were reported on Monday, October 12, despite a ceasefire agreement between the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments being in place since Saturday, October 10. Nagorno-Karabakh officials claimed that Azerbaijan had launched an offensive backed by heavy artillery in the area of Hadrut, in the south of the region, on Monday morning, a claim denied by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. Officials of the self-proclaimed and Armenian-backed Artsakh Republic stated that a further 45 soldiers had been killed in the fighting, bringing its military death toll to 525 in the space of two weeks. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani officials claimed that Armenian forces had shelled the Goranboy, Terter, and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan on Monday and that a tenth person had died as a result of an alleged Armenian missile strike in Ganja which took place on Sunday, October 11. At least 25 civilians in Armenia and Azerbaijan have been killed over the course of the fighting, with more than 100 others wounded.
Further clashes in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region are highly likely over the near term. Clashes along the length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation are expected.
The latest round of hostilities erupted on September 27, when Azerbaijani forces reportedly carried out strikes on settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including the regional capital Stepanakert. Following retaliatory attacks by separatist forces, Azerbaijan launched what it claimed to be a 'counter-offensive' in response. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan made extensive use of heavy weapons during the clashes, including artillery and loitering munitions, and released footage claiming to show the destruction of enemy armored vehicles and installations. A state of war, martial law, and mobilization were declared in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. Over 400 people, including civilians, have been killed since the renewed outbreak of hostilities. In addition to fighting along the Line of Contact, cities in Nagorno-Karabakh and outside of the conflict zone have been targeted in artillery strikes including Stepanakert, Ganja, Barda, Beylagan, Terter, and Mingecevir.
On October 10, both sides agreed to a ceasefire to allow for the exchange of prisoners and the recovery of the bodies of those killed in the conflict and the cessation of hostilities will be followed up with further talks aimed at reaching a settlement regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fuelled tensions between the two countries since 1988; with some 30,000 people being killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead.
Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Those in Azerbaijan are advised to monitor developments and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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