4 Azerbaijani civilians die in attacks by Armenian militias

Azerbaijan says four civilians have died and 17 others have been wounded in attacks by Armenian-backed militias in occupied Karabakh region since clashes broke out

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An Armenian serviceman in the occupied Azerbaijani region of Karabakh stands near an artillery piece after firing a shell towards Azerbaijan, April 3, 2016.

Four civilians have died and 17 others have been wounded in attacks by Armenian-backed militias since clashes broke out again in the occupied Karabakh region, Azerbaijan announced on Tuesday.

Baku has called on Armenia to cease targeting civilians, but Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry said civilians are still being targeted in attacks.

The ministry also reported that 16 Azerbaijani servicemen have died in fighting around the Armenian-occupied region of Karabakh in the past two days, while nearly 170 Armenian soldiers have been killed and 12 Armenian armoured vehicles have been destroyed by Azerbaijani forces.

The recent fighting is one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence since a 1994 peace treaty between the countries brought about through Russian mediation.

According to Azerbaijani Defence Ministry the fighting began after Armenian forces fired mortars and large-caliber artillery shells across the front line.

On Monday the ministry said it had halted attacks by the Armenian military, but pro-Armenian militias continue to aggravate the situation by striking nearby settlements.

The conflict between the two countries started with Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan in 1988 during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, of which both Azerbaijan and Armenia were constituent states.

Since 1992 the Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan including the Karabakh region - a landlocked mountainous region - and seven surrounding districts.

After years of negotiations mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group - consisting of Russia, France and the US - little progress has been made.

Envoys from the three mediating countries will come together in Vienna on Tuesday for talks on the conflict.

TRTWorld and agencies