Heavy Fighting by Armenia, Azerbaijan Reported in Nagorno-Karabakh

Heavy fighting continued between Armenia and Azerbaijan forces Saturday in the conflict over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, officials from both countries said.Armenian and Azerbaijani forces seemingly ignored calls this week by the U.S., France and Russia for an immediate cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian breakaway province inside Azerbaijan.Armenian Defense Ministry officials said they had repelled a large attack by Azerbaijan along the front line and shot down three planes.Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied any planes being shot down and said Armenian personnel had shelled civilian territory.Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said his forces had taken control Saturday of the strategic village of Madagiz.The attacks took place after Stepanakert, the regional capital, came under fire by Azeri forces, media reports said.The fighting has killed at least 150 people on both sides in the turbulent South Caucasus region since fighting began September 27, the two countries said.Azerbaijan’s president has demanded the withdrawal of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh as the only way to end the fighting.Both sides previously had dismissed the demands for a truce in the disputed region, where fighting has escalated in recent days to levels not seen since the 1990s.Armenian separatists seized Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a bloody war in the 1990s that killed an estimated 30,000 people.Talks to resolve the conflict have been halted since a 1994 cease-fire agreement among Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh.Peace efforts in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, mediated by the Minsk Group, composed of the United States, France and Russia, collapsed in 2010.

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