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Azerbaijan announces unilateral cease-fire after clashes with Armenian forces

Azerbaijan has said it's ceasing fire following fierce clashes with Armenian forces in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Many have been reported killed since fighting broke out two days ago.

The country's defense ministry said on Sunday it was putting an end to fighting after violence erupted in the disputed region.

"Azerbaijan, showing good will, has decided to unilaterally cease hostilities," the ministry said in a statement, according to the AFP news agency.

Fighting

with Armenian troops

broke out on Saturday, with the two sides accusing each other of having started the hostilities.

Despite the announcement of a cease-fire, clashes continued on Sunday afternoon. An Azerbaijani defense official said Armenian forces had "continued shelling throughout the day, without interruption," although the Armenian Defense Ministry's account of the situation contradicted that.

"Fighting with the use of tanks and artillery continues as Azerbaijan is telling lies that it halted hostilities," ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan told AFP.

Tens of thousands dead since 1991

Azerbaijan claimed 12 of its soldiers had been killed, while Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said 18 ethnic Armenians had lost their lives and 35 others had been injured.

The clashes were in violation of a decades-old ceasefire put into place following the outbreak of war in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite attempts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to resolve the dispute, sporadic clashes have erupted since.

All in all, some 30,000 people have lost their lives since the conflict began in the early 1990s.

blc/jlw (AFP, AP)

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