YEREVAN — Azerbaijani forces opened fire at two villages in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and Armenian army positions on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert said on Thursday.
According to Karabakh officials, the Armenian-populated villages of Karmir Shuka and Taghavard came under “intense” Azerbaijani gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes. None of their residents was injured as a result.
Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanyan, said the small arms fire damaged a house in Karmir Shuka. He released a photograph of one of its windows pierced by two bullets.
“There is no gunfire at the moment and the villagers are going about their business,” a spokesman for the Karabakh interior ministry said, adding that Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh have been informed about the incident.
A Taghavard resident, Sergei Gevorgyan, confirmed the reported shooting. “Nobody has left the village. We are already used [to such incidents,]” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
It was the first serious armed incident reported in Karabakh since March.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported, meanwhile, an Azerbaijani truce violation at one section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Armenian troops guarding the border section returned fire, it said, adding that none of them was hurt in the skirmish.
Tigran Grigoryan, an Armenian political analyst, suggested that the reported truce violations signify the Azerbaijani leadership’s dissatisfaction with the current state of the peace process. He said Baku may be trying to ratchet up tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone in a bid to “clinch diplomatic-political concessions from Armenia.”