Azerbaijan confirms reaching a ceasefire agreement with Armenia-backed rebels over the volatile Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh following a new spate of violence between Yerevan and Baku over the disputed territory.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a ceasefire agreement that had been announced by the separatist authorities in Karabakh.
“Military actions were halted as of 12:00pm local time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday,” Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
A Karabakh Defense Ministry spokesman had said earlier in the day that Armenian and Azeri authorities of the region have reached an agreement to end four days of fierce fighting.
“An agreement to cease fire has been reached with Azerbaijan,” the official stated, adding, “An order was given to stop shooting.”
However, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry had denied knowledge about the truce.
At least 46 people have been killed since April 1, when fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh.
On April 3, Baku announced a “unilateral” ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill, warning, however, that it would strike back if its forces came under attack. Bouts of fighting were reported soon afterward.
Mediators from Russia, the United States and France are expected to meet in the Austrian capital, Vienna, later on Tuesday over the flare-up. Iran has also said it is ready to help restore calm to the volatile region.
The landlocked Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops since a three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives, ended between the two republics in 1994 through mediation by Russia.
Last December, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the ceasefire deal was no longer in place, saying the current situation amounted to “war.”
Although the two countries are divided by a buffer zone, both sides frequently accused one another of violating the ceasefire.