Armenian officials say Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert while Baku says its second-largest city Ganja was ‘under fire’ from Armenian forces.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are both claiming they were attacked by the other side as fighting over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region continues in its second week.
On Sunday, Armenian officials said Azerbaijan’s forces had shelled Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s main city, while Azerbaijan said its second-largest city, Ganja, was “under fire” from Armenian forces.
In Stepanakert, the sound of sirens was heard at approximately 9:30am (05:30 GMT), followed by several explosions, according to AFP news agency.
“Azerbaijani forces are shelling civilian targets in Stepanakert with rockets,” Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan told AFP.
Azerbaijani authorities said they had taken “retaliatory measures” after rocket fire from Stepanakert.
Separately, the defence ministry in Baku said Armenian armed forces were firing rockets at the towns of Terter and Horadiz in the Fizuli region.
Meanwhile, in statements posted on its website, Azerbaijan defence ministry said Ganja, a city of more than 330,000 in the western part of the country, and several other civilian areas were under attack using rockets and shelling.
Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians backed by Armenia and has been the subject of several United Nations resolutions calling for an end to the occupation of Azeri lands.
The leader of the breakaway province, Arayik Harutyunyan, said he was heading to the front and that the “final battle” for the region had begun, while Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his nation was facing a historic threat.
“We are facing possibly the most decisive moment in our millennia-old history,” Pashinyan said in an address to the nation on Saturday. “We all must dedicate ourselves to a singular goal: Victory.”
Azerbaijan and Armenia previously fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the late 1980s and early 1990s as they transitioned into independent countries amid the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The war, which ended with a fragile peace treaty in 1994, is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people, including more than a thousand civilians.
Armenia says it was Azerbaijan that restarted the conflict by launching a major offensive on September 27, while Baku says it was forced to respond to provocations by the other side.
The fighting continued despite international calls for the neighbours to halt clashes and begin talks as fears grow that the fighting could expand into a multi-front war sucking in regional powers Turkey and Russia.