STEPANAKERT, BAKU (RFE/RL)—After more than three days of fierce fighting, the Karabakh and Azerbaijani armed forces announced on Tuesday afternoon that they have agreed to stop hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
The spokesman for Karabakh’s Army, Senor Hasratian, said the ceasefire took effect at noon along the entire “line of contact” north and east of the Armenian-controlled region.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry issued a similar short statement. No further details of the agreement were immediately given by either side.
According to Davit Babayan, the chief spokesman for the Karabakh government, the intensity of hostilities eased in the afternoon.
“The situation was quite tense until noon,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The enemy used heavy artillery, including the Smerch [multiple-launch] rocket systems and tried to penetrate Karabakh territory at some sections but met with appropriate resistance.”
“Right now the situation is a bit calmer,” added Babayan.
The ceasefire announcement came as senior diplomats from 10 OSCE member states making up the Minsk Group on Karabakh met in Vienna to discuss the worst escalation of the Karabakh conflict in over two decades. The diplomats strongly condemned the escalation but did not hold a single conflicting party responsible for it.
“We urge the sides to cease using force immediately,” they said in a joint statement. “There is no military solution to the conflict.”
“The deterioration of the situation on the ground demonstrates the need for an immediate negotiation, under the auspices of the Co-chairs, on a comprehensive settlement,” it added
It was announced that the group’s U.S., Russian and French co-chairs will visit Yerevan and Baku later this week. The Minsk Group statement hailed their “plans to undertake direct consultations with the sides as soon as possible.”
The Defense Ministry in Baku said in the morning that 16 more Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in fierce clashes on the Karabakh frontline on Monday and Sunday. It claimed to have suffered 12 combat deaths at the start of the Azerbaijani offensive in Karabakh on Saturday.
On the Armenian side, at least 20 soldiers have been killed and 26 others gone missing since Saturday. The fighting accompanied by shelling of towns and villages has also left 4 Karabakh Armenian civilians, including an 11-year-old boy, dead.