BAKU: New clashes broke out between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh a day after talks in Washington to try to end the deadliest fighting in the enclave in more than a quarter of a century.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry reported fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous part of Azerbaijan populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.

It said the areas of Lachin and Gubadli had come under rocket and artillery fire from inside Armenian territory.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, local officials accused Azerbaijan’s forces of firing Smerch missiles into residential buildings in Stepanakert, the largest city in the region, which Baku denied.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had separately met the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Friday in a new attempt to end nearly a month of bloodshed that Russian President Vladimir Putin said may have killed 5,000 people.

The collapse of two Russia-brokered ceasefires had already dimmed the prospect of a quick end to fighting that broke out on Sept 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The defence ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh said the total number of Armenians killed in the weeks of fighting had risen by 36 to 963, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Azerbaijan said a 13-year-old Russian boy died on Saturday after being wounded in a rocket attack on the city of Ganja on Oct 17. Azerbaijan says 65 Azeri civilians have been killed and 298 wounded, but has not disclosed its military casualties.

Azeri forces say they have made territorial gains, including full control over the border with Iran, which Arm­enia denies. Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian administration says its forces have repulsed attacks.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020