Azerbaijan announces unilateral Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

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By Seamus Kearney
Azerbaijan announces unilateral Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

<p>Azerbaijan has announced a unilateral ceasefire after the worst clashes in decades over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.</p> <p>Both Azerbaijan and Armenia confirm dozens of dead and injured after fighting erupted on Saturday.</p> <p>Despite Azerbaijan’s declaration of a truce, however, officials in Nagorno-Karabakh claim hostilities continue.</p> <p>The two sides accuse each other of violating a fragile ceasefire that has been in force since a separatist war ended in 1994.</p> <p>Amid international calls for restraint, it is still not certain how many of the casualties are civilians.</p> <p>The Azeri defence ministry claimed it had taken strategically important settlements, a claim denied by Armenia. </p> <p>The Azeri Ministry of Defence claimed that six Armenian tanks were destroyed and more than 100 Armenian servicemen were killed and injured.</p> <p>It added that 12 Azeri soldiers had been killed. </p> <p>Armenia denied the figures given by Azerbaijan.</p> <p>Nagorno-Karabkh’s military claimed Armenian forces had shot down an Azeri helicopter. Baku later admitted that one of its Mi-24 helicopters had been struck down.</p> <p>The Armenian Defence Ministry said: “The enemy, using tanks, artillery and aviation made attempts to get deep into the defence lines of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army of Defence and capture tactical positions. The enemy was thwarted.” </p> <p>Armenia said 18 ethnic Armenians were killed and 35 injured. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Azerbaijan?src=hash">#Azerbaijan</a>'i helicopter MI-24 shot down by <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Karabakh?src=hash">#Karabakh</a> forces <a href="https://t.co/xn6dk4Ndin">pic.twitter.com/xn6dk4Ndin</a></p>— Karabakh <span class="caps">MFA</span> (@mfankr) <a href="https://twitter.com/mfankr/status/716312898277150724">April 2, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh claimed some 30,000 lives before a ceasefire accord was struck.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Azerbaijan?src=hash">#Azerbaijan</a> bombd <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Karabakh?src=hash">#Karabakh</a> civilian settlements.<br /> A video on effects & their losses<a href="https://t.co/DLiwUKuh1G">https://t.co/DLiwUKuh1G</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NKpeace?src=hash">#NKpeace</a> <a href="https://t.co/jKcxaPXu0Y">pic.twitter.com/jKcxaPXu0Y</a></p>— Karabakh <span class="caps">MOD</span> (@Karabakh_MoD) <a href="https://twitter.com/Karabakh_MoD/status/716288504116985858">April 2, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>Russia, a key mediator in the conflict, has stepped in, with President Vladimir Putin calling for both sides to observe the ceasefire to ‘avert new casualties’.</p> <p>Germany has also called for restraint.</p>