Azerbaijan said Tuesday it had launched “anti-terrorist operations” in Nagorno-Karabakh, almost three years after it went to war over the disputed mountainous region with Armenia.
“Anti-terrorist operations in the region of a local character have begun,” Baku’s defence ministry said, adding it was using “high-precision weapons on the front line and in depth” as part of the operations.
Blasts were heard Tuesday in the Armenian separatist stronghold of Stepanakert in the region.
The ex-Soviet neighbours have been locked in a decades-long dispute over the mountainous region, going to war twice in the 1990s and in 2020.
Fears of a fresh war have escalated in recent months with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of a troop build-up and decrying a blockade of its only land link to Armenian-majority Karabakh.
Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but largely populated by ethnic Armenians.
Escalated tensions come after four Azerbaijani police officers and two civilians were killed in mine blasts in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region Tuesday, with authorities blaming Armenian separatists as tensions escalate between the arch foes
The deaths at dawn came after Armenian separatists reached an agreement with Azerbaijani authorities to resume aid deliveries to Karabakh.
Baku’s security services said two men died in the Khodzhaveskiy distinct and four police officers were killed by a mine placed by Armenian “sabotage groups,” the statement said.
It said the attack took place “in the zone of temporary deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent”, deployed by Moscow in 2020 as part of a ceasefire deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan said the police officers were killed shortly afterwards while travelling on a truck on the road to Azerbaijani-controlled Shusha, recaptured from separatists in 2020.
In the six-week 2020 war, Azerbaijan regained control of key areas of Karabakh, including the culturally revered town of Shusha.
Other parts of the region, including the main city of Stepanakert, remain under the control of Armenian separatists.
Azerbaijan said the road to Shusha was built after it captured pockets of land from Armenia in 2020.
“During the construction of the road, the area along the route was cleared of mines,” Baku said.
Nagorno-Karabakh is heavily mined. Over the last three decades, hundreds of Azerbaijanis have been wounded or killed by landmines laid by Armenian forces.
Both Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries used them during a bloody conflict in the early 1990s.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that landmines were the main obstacle impeding the return of displaced people to territories retaken from Armenian separatists in 2020.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Kaynak : https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20230919-azerbaijan-says-it-has-begun-anti-terrorist-operations-in-nagorno-karabakh