admin April 8, 2016

Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed separatists say they have agreed a temporary deal to allow each side to safely search for the bodies of their soldiers killed in clashes over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The warring parties agreed a cease-fire on April 5 after four days of shelling and artillery strikes that killed dozens.

It was the worst fighting since a 1994 cease-fire that stopped the conflict but did not resolve the underlying dispute.

The truce has largely held, though both sides have reported some violations.

On April 8, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry and the military leaders in Nagorno-Karabakh said they had sealed a deal to ensure there were no violations for a five-hour period later in the day to allow both sides to search for their dead.

Earlier, each side alleged the other had violated the truce in skirmishes overnight.

In a statement, the Armenia-backed separatist forces said two of its soldiers were killed along the “line of contact” that effectively serves as a front line separating the combatant sides.

The Armenian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said Azerbaijan shelled military and civilian targets inside Armenia.

Azerbaijan said it returned fire after Armenian forces shelled its positions in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, has arrived in Azerbaijan for talks with President Ilham Aliyev.

“Russia, no less than Azerbaijan and Armenia, has an interest in there being peace in this region, our region,” Medvedev said on arrival in Baku. “The cease-fire agreement is the foundation for unfreezing talks between Baku and Yerevan.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mainly ethnic Armenian region inside Azerbaijan. Separatists there fought a war in the early 1990s to establish de facto control over the territory.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.