Baku, October 17: Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday gave a stern warning to Armenia after a missile struck the country's second-largest city of Ganja. Aliyev vowed to take revenge on the battlefield. According to reports, 12 civilians were killed and 40 others injured in the missile attack. Hikmat Hajiyev, the assistant to the Azerbaijani President, said, "The ballistic missiles have been fired from the territory of Armenia."
Hajiyev further added that the Ganja is located far from the conflict zone. The attack has escalated the conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The early hours' attack, which saw a second missile strike another part of Ganja and a third reach the nearby strategic city of Mingecevir, reported Global news agency AFP. Nagorno-Karabakh Dispute: Ceasefire Comes Into Effect in Disputed Region Under Armenia-Azerbaijan Deal.
The missile attack came hours after Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert, capital of Karabakh. Emergency crews are still searching through the rubble as more people are feared trapped. Azerbaijan's prosecutor general and minister of emergencies were at the scene. Artsrun Hovhannisyan, the spokesperson for the Armenian Defence Ministry, has denied the attack and accused Azerbaijan of continuing to shell some areas inside Nagorno-Karabakh, including Stepanakert, the major city of the mountainous region. Why Azerbaijan, Armenia Are On Edge of Full-Blown War: Nagorno-Karabakh Dispute Explained.
Last week, both the countries agreed for a ceasefire, which came into effect from Saturday from 8:00 am GMT. Both the countries also agreed to start "substantive" talks over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory, as part of a peace deal. Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed territory which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, April 2016 and this July.