71 Death toll in Azerbaijan-Armenia border

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Azerbaijan says 71 of its troops have been killed this week during border clashes with Armenia, which marked the worst fighting between the rival neighbours since their 2020 war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia said 105 of its soldiers died in the violence, which each side blames on the other.

The flare-up threatened to drag Turkey, Azerbaijan’s key backer, and Armenia’s ally Russia into a wider conflict at a time of already high geopolitical tensions.

A senior Armenian official said the two sides had negotiated a ceasefire, which took effect at 8pm local time (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

The United Nations welcomed the ceasefire on Thursday. UN Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca said: “The international community must remain fully committed to a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and spare no effort to de-escalate the current tensions, bring the parties back to the negotiation table and help them achieve peace and stability in the region.”

Armenia’s defence ministry said the situation along the shared border was quiet following the deal, and that no ceasefire violations were reported. There was no immediate comment from Azerbaijan on the reported agreement.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly traded blame for the fighting this week, which first broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning and has taken place in areas away from Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave that lies inside Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.

Armenian authorities have accused Baku of unleashing a number of unprovoked cross-border attacks, while Azerbaijani officials claim their forces responded to initial Armenian “provocations”.