A third attempt at halting weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh collapsed quickly on Monday with Armenia and Azerbaijan trading accusations of violating the US-brokered ceasefire within minutes.
As fighting over the disputed region enters its second month, international mediators are scrambling to bring a stop to frontline clashes and shelling of civilian areas that have left hundreds dead.
The latest “humanitarian ceasefire” was announced by Washington on Sunday, after truces brokered by Russia and France fell apart over previous weekends.
It took less than an hour after the ceasefire was due to begin at 8:00 am (0400 GMT) for the first accusations to be made.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said Armenian forces had shelled the town of Terter and nearby villages in “gross violation” of the truce.
Armenia’s defense ministry said Azerbaijani forces had “grossly violated” the ceasefire with artillery fire on combat positions in various parts of the frontline.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a bitter conflict over Karabakh since Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous province in a 1990s war that left 30,000 people dead.
Karabakh’s self-declared independence has not been recognized internationally, even by Armenia, and it remains a part of Azerbaijan under international law.
The current fighting broke out on September 27. Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of having targeted civilians and of breaking the previous truces. Repeated calls for calm do seem to have had any effect.