Armenia and Azerbaijan have killed dozens of people in violent fighting since the 1990s

At least 29 people have been killed’ in the second day of heavy fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan after their conflict erupted in more than a quarter of a century.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have killed dozens of people in violent fighting since the 1990s

Forces from former Soviet neighbors fired rockets and artillery at each other on Monday as fighting escalated around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Any move related to the war could draw major regional powers, Armenia's defense ally with Russia, and Azerbaijan backed by Turkey.

"We have not seen anything like this in the war since the ceasefire in the 1990s," said the Crisis Group, an independent organization working to prevent wars.

"Fighting is going on with all parts of the front," said Olesya Vartanyan, a senior analyst with the South Caucasus Crisis Group.

"If there are large-scale casualties, this fight will be extremely difficult to overcome and we will definitely see a full-fledged war in which Turkey or Russia, or both, are likely to intervene."

Armenia, which has a Christian-majority population, and Azerbaijan - which is predominantly Muslim - first clashed with Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1980s.

The breakaway region is within Azerbaijan but is mostly populated’ by ethnic and ethnic Armenians.

The latest fighting has revived concerns over stability in the South Caucasus, a transit route for oil and gas pipelines to world markets.

Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said 27 of its soldiers were killed’ in fighting with Azerbaijani forces on Monday, after 31 soldiers were killed and more than 100 wounded on Sunday.

The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office said two Azeri civilians were killed’ on Monday, five on Sunday and 30 were injured.

There is no official word on Azeri military casualties.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the fighting, which killed 16 people on both sides in July.

The European Union (EU) has called on both sides to suspend hostilities and return to the negotiating table following similar demands from Iran, Russia, France and the United States.

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said: "We hope and do everything we can to prevent a war from being defeated, because that is the last thing in the region.

"There is no military solution to this conflict."

Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized’ as part of Azerbaijan. But the ethnic Armenians, who make up the majority of the population, reject the Azeri principle.

They have run their own affairs with the support of Armenia, since Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Although a ceasefire was agreed’ in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia often accuse each other of carrying out attacks in the vicinity of Nagorno-Karabakh and in the Algerian-Azerbaijani border areas.


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