Tbilisi, Sep 27 (efe-epa).- Clashes broke out on Sunday between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Armenian government has decreed martial law and a general mobilization in response to the escalation of the conflict.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged military personnel to present themselves at territorial headquarters and said in a statement on Facebook: “Get ready to defend our sacred homeland.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in a state of war since 1991 over the disputed territory which has flared up again in recent months.
Russia’s foreign ministry urged both sides to immediately cease fighting and to come to the negotiating table to stabilize the situation.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is under the control of ethnic Armenians.
A ceasefire was signed in 1994 which remains in force but both sides have reported violations of the pact.
Both sides have accused each other of attacks against civilians.
Nagorno-Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan has also decreed martial law and the general mobilization of people over 18, his spokesman Vagram Poghosyan said on Facebook.
The mobilizations in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh came after Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive across the frontline.
Authorities said this was in response to attacks Armenia had carried out against Azerbaijani positions and civilian settlements.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said bombing by the Armenian army had caused “losses in the ranks of the armed forces and among the civilian population”.
He added in a televised message to the nation that the country “will not leave the Armenian actions without response”.
Nagorno-Karabakh reported that a woman and a child have been killed in the clashes and that dozens of civilians were injured.
The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict dates back to the Soviet Union, which both countries were part of before its collapse.
In the late 1980s the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mostly by Armenians, asked to be incorporated into neighboring Armenia after which a war broke out that left 25,000 dead.
Armenian forces took control of Karabakh and also occupied other Azerbaijani territories, which it described as a “security strip” to unite it with Armenia.
Azerbaijan has said the only solution to the conflict is the liberation of these territories, a demand supported by the United Nations Security Council.
Armenia supports Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination and advocates the participation of representatives from the region in peace negotiations. EFE-EPA