Major clashes involving heavy gun and mortar fire have reportedly erupted between the military forces of Azerbaijan Republic and Armenia along the disputed border region of Karabakh.
Authorities from the two countries accused each other on Saturday of provoking the skirmishes, which broke out overnight with no immediate reports of casualties.
The Azerbaijan Republic Defense Ministry announced in a Saturday statement that Armenian troops opened fire 127 times along the border over a 24-hour period using mortars and heavy artillery shells that struck civilian regions.
Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargyakhly denied an announcement by Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan that an Azerbaijani helicopter was shot down during the clashes.
The Armenian Defense Ministry also alleged that Azeri forces initiated an offensive overnight, using tanks, artillery and military aircraft in a bid to make inroads into Nagorno-Karabkh.
It added, “Azerbaijani authorities bear all responsibility for the unprecedentedly supercharged situation.”
Karabakh region, which is located in Azerbaijan Republic but populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian military troops since a war over the region ended between the two republics in 1994 through Russian mediation.
Years of negotiations under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have led to little progress in the resolution of the dispute.
The two sides are separated by a demilitarized buffer zone, but both blame each other for frequent violations.