Armenia, Azerbaijan say 23 killed in Karabakh fighting

By: AFP      Published: 09:55 PM, 27 Sep, 2020
Armenia, Azerbaijan say 23 killed in Karabakh fighting
An image grab taken from a video made available on the official web site of the Armenian Defence Ministry on September 27, 2020, allegedly shows destroying of Azeri military vehicles during clashes between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.–AFP

At least 23 people -– civilians and military -- have died in heavy fighting that erupted on Sunday between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian rebels in the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region, officials said.

The worst clashes since 2016 have raised the spectre of a fresh war between long-standing rivals Azerbaijan and Armenia which have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over the Armenia-backed breakaway enclave.

The office of Azerbaijan's prosecutor general said an Azerbaijani family of five were killed as Armenian separatist forces shelled Azerbaijan's village of Gashalty.

Rebel authorities in Karabakh said 16 of its troops were killed and more than 100 wounded in fighting, as well as two civilians, a child and a woman.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the hostilities.

Ethnic Armenian separatists seized the Nagorny Karabakh region from Baku in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.

Talks to resolve one of the worst conflicts to emerge from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union have been largely stalled since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

In July, heavy clashes along the two countries' shared border -- hundreds of kilometres from Karabakh -- claimed the lives of at least 17 soldiers from both sides.

Raising the stakes, Azerbaijan at the time threatened to strike Armenia's atomic power station if Yerevan attacked strategic facilities.

During the worst recent clashes in April 2016, around 110 people were killed.