Azeri-Armenian clashes escalate in disputed area

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 14, 2014 shows Armenian and Karabakh armed forces holding joint military exercises at a training ground near the town of Tigranakert in the unrecognized Republic of Karabakh. Arch foes Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on April 2, 2016 of unleashing heavy weaponry across the front line of Nagorny Karabakh, in an apparent surge of violence in the festering dispute over the breakaway region.  / AFP / KAREN MINASYAN


Azerbaijan stepped up attacks against Armenians in a disputed region of South Caucasus on Saturday, using artillery, tanks and air raids. One child was killed and two others wounded.
The attacks, targeting civilian areas and military units across the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh, came in response to Armenian shelling of Azeri areas, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on its website.
It denied Armenian reports that one of its military helicopters was shot down.
Armenia called the attacks “unprecedented and aggressive” and said they may lead to “unpredictable consequences” if they continue. Russia said it is monitoring developments.
A resumption of large-scale hostilities would threaten energy infrastructure around Azerbaijan, the former Soviet Union’s third-biggest oil producer and a destination for more than $50 billion of investment from BP Plc and its partners over the past two decades. Armenians took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts from Azerbaijan in a war after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Around 30,000 people were killed and more than a million others displaced. Hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire in 1994, yet no peace accord has been signed.
Both sides have suffered losses in this week’s fighting. Two Armenian servicemen were killed by Azeri fire April 1 in Armenia and Karabakh, Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said on Facebook.

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