Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes enter second day, toll rises

Fierce fighting raged between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces on Monday, sparking bellicose rhetoric from regional power Turkey despite international pleas for a halt in fighting between the longtime enemies.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a territorial dispute over the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorny Karabakh for decades, with deadly fighting flaring up earlier this year and in 2016.

The region declared its independence from Azerbaijan after a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives but is not recognised by any country — including Armenia — and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.

Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia could embroil regional players such as Russia, which has a military alliance with Armenia, and Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan.

Karabakh’s Defence Ministry said 27 fighters were killed in fighting Monday — after previously reporting 28 — bringing their total military losses to 58.

The overall death toll rose to 67, including nine civilian deaths: seven in Azerbaijan and two on the Armenian side.

Azerbaijan has not reported any military casualties, but Armenian separatist officials released footage showing burnt-out armoured vehicles and the bloodied and charred remains of soldiers in camouflage it said were Azerbaijani troops.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Monday ordered partial military mobilisation.

With each side blaming the other for the latest fighting, world leaders have urged calm as fears rise of a full-scale conflict.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was monitoring the situation closely and that the priority was to “stop the hostilities, not to deal with who is right and who is wrong.”

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Armenia end its “occupation” of Karabakh.

In addition to the EU and Russia, France, Germany, Italy and the United States have urged a ceasefire.

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