Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers exchanged artillery fire near Nagorno-Karabakh, raising fears of a war-like escalation in 2020. Both sides blamed each other for the initial provocation.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up again on Monday night, with intense artillery fire from both sides.

Around midnight, Azerbaijani forces opened fire on Armenian forces at three points along the border. Azerbaijan said it was responding to Armenian landmines and weapons buildup near the border.

Armenia fired back.

The fighting took place near the Nagorno-Karabakh region, an area in Azerbaijan where ethnic Armenian separatists declared a breakaway republic in 1991 – later known as Artsakh.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Armenian defense spokesman Aram Torosyan said the situation was “extremely tense” as the fighting continued.

“At this moment, we have 49 [troops] killed and unfortunately this is not the final figure,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan later told parliament.

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Both countries claimed to have launched a proportionate response against provocations by the other side.

“At 00:05 on Tuesday morning [local time], Azerbaijan opened heavy fire with artillery and large-caliber guns on Armenian military positions in the direction of the cities of Goris, Sotak and Jermuk,” Armenia’s Defense Ministry said.

However, Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of committing “massive acts of sabotage” on Monday night near the border districts of Dashkasan, Kelbazar and Lachin, laying landmines and stockpiling weapons.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense added, “The resistance carried out by the Azerbaijani army in response to the provocation by the Armenian army is localized and directed against legitimate military objects that serve as firing points.”

The Armenian military said it later launched a “standardized” response. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said its forces “came under intense fire from Armenian army units of various caliber weapons, including mortars.

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