Nagorno-Karabakh residents are fleeing villages as fighting intensifies

U.S. & World

Nagorno-Karabakh residents are fleeing their villages as the fighting intensifies and Azerbaijani forces near.

In the territorial capital Stepanakert, a group of people boarded a bus bound for Armenia to escape the fighting.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. In that war, Armenian forces also seized several regions of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh, creating a buffer zone around the territory.

Azerbaijani forces pushed deeper into Nagorno-Karabakh on Friday as top diplomats from Armenia and Azerbaijan were scheduled to attend talks in Geneva intended to help broker an end to more than a month of heavy fighting over the separatist territory.

Intense clashes were going on in the south of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said.

The Azerbaijani military reported that areas in the Terter and Gubadli regions of Azerbaijan came under Armenian shelling.

On Thursday, Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leader said Azerbaijani troops had advanced to within 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) of a strategically located town just south of the region’s capital, Stepanakert.

He urged residents to mobilize all their resources to fend off the attack on Shushi, a town which sits on the main road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 1,166 of their troops and 39 civilians have been killed.

Azerbaijani authorities haven’t disclosed their military losses, but say the fighting has killed at least 90 civilians and wounded 392.

The latest fighting began September 27 and has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, in the largest escalation of hostilities over the separatist region in the quarter-century since the war ended.

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