Nagorno- Karabakh Cease-Fire Takes Effect

A cease-fire between Armenian and Azerbaijani went into effect Saturday at noon local time (0800 UTC), at least temporarily halting deadly hostilities over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which each country claims.Official sources on both sides accused each other of firing missiles and rockets on civilian areas on Saturday, in the hours before the cease-fire.Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to the cease-fire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region after 10 hours of talks in Moscow. The truce will allow both sides to exchange prisoners and recover the dead.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who mediated the talks, said the cease-fire should pave the way for further talks on the settlement of the conflict.The talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan were held at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin after nearly two weeks of fighting.On Friday, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for an “urgent cease-fire” in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing a heavy toll on civilians.“It is deeply worrying that in recent days we have seen populated areas reportedly targeted and shelled with heavy weaponry in and around the conflict area,” Bachelet said in a statement.Bachelet’s office said it has received unconfirmed reports that more than 50 civilians, including children, have been killed since the fighting erupted on Sept. 27.The fighting also claimed the lives of about 400 soldiers and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.The predominantly ethnic Armenian territory declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union, sparking a war that claimed the lives of as many as 30,000 people before a 1994 cease-fire. However, that independence is not internationally recognized.

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