Armenian forces have reportedly attacked Ganja, the second-largest city in Azerbaijan, on Sunday, October 4. Initial reports state that Armenia has denied that it fired towards Azerbaijan, however, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) claim they have attacked the Ganja military base. Additionally, the Azeri defense ministry has announced that the cities of Terter and Horadiz near the de-facto border with Nagorno-Karabakh were under heavy shelling. Damage and causality figures have yet to be released.
Further clashes in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region are highly likely over the near term. Clashes along the length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation are expected.
The latest round of hostilities erupted on Sunday, September 27, when Azerbaijani forces reportedly carried out strikes on settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including the regional capital Stepanakert, causing at least two civilian fatalities. Residents of the area have been instructed to seek refuge in shelters. Following a retaliation by separatist forces, Azerbaijan launched what it claims to be a ‘counter-offensive’ in response. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have used heavy weaponry and reported casualties and material losses. Both sides have released footage claiming to show the destruction of enemy armored vehicles and installations. A state of war, martial law, and mobilization have been declared in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. On October 1, the leaders of France, Russia, and the US, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is dedicated to mediating the conflict, called for a ceasefire and a return to negotiations. Armenia responded by stating that it was prepared to work with the OCSE to renew the ceasefire, but Azeri authorities have not responded and have previously stated that Armenia must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to avoid further escalation.
Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fueled tensions between the two countries since 1988; some 30,000 people were killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead.
Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Those in Azerbaijan are advised to monitor developments and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.