YEREVAN, STEPANAKERT–Azeri Armed Forces violated the cease fire Tuesday when at 5 a.m. local time Azeri forces opened fire on Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Army positions northeast of the Martakert Region, Armenian Defense Ministry reported.
Azeri forces captured a Karabakh defense position. Karabakh forces responded to the attack and forced the Azeri side to retreat. Fatalities and casualties are being reported on the Azeri side. A senior Lieutenant of the Karabakh Army was also wounded in the attack.
The exchange of fire escalated and intensified at around 8 a.m. local and fighting continued until 3:40 p.m., when Karabakh forces reclaimed their positions and calm has been restored.
Armenia’s Defense Minister immediately informed the Personal representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk about the violation of the cease-fire regime.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said that Azeri Armed Force were responsible for initiating a "serious challenge to Armenian forces" and suggested more substantial military hardware was involved than had been in any previous violations of the 1994 cease-fire agreement that brought an end to major hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Oskanian accused Baku of striking at a moment when Yerevan is particularly vulnerable, with the state of emergency in place since government troops and police forcibly dispersed opposition protesters in clashes on March 1 that left at least eight people dead.
"We condemn this challenge, and we think that this is an attempt by the Azerbaijani side to exploit the current situation in Armenia," Oskanian said. "Perhaps they thought we had focused all of our attention on our internal situation, and that this could provide them with a psychological advantage, but this hasn’t proved the case."