(REUTERS): Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and the Armenian Defence Ministry said that at least two Azerbaijani helicopters shot down.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan that has been out of Azerbaijan’s control since the end of a war in 1994. Both sides have a heavy military presence along a demilitarised zone.
Armenian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan claimed that the fighting began on Sunday morning with an Azerbaijani attack. She claimed that Armenia had shot down two helicopters and three drones, and destroyed three tanks.
Armenian officials have informed that a woman and child had been killed, and further reports of casualties were being verified. In this regard, Armenia has declared martial law and ordered the total mobilisation of its military.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on his people to defend their homeland. “Get ready to defend our sacred homeland,” adding “The government has decided to declare martial law and a total mobilisation.”
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry denied all the claims and said that the Armenian side attacked and that Azerbaijan launched a counteroffensive. It had also denied that its helicopters and tanks had been hit.
Officials in Azerbaijani claimed that an unspecified number of their civilians had been killed and six wounded, and Nagorno-Karabakh said 10 of its military staff had been killed.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has vowed victory over Armenian forces in a televised address to the nation. “There are losses among the Azerbaijani forces and the civilian population. Our cause is just and we will win,” he added.
An international news agency has informed that Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan termed Armenia as the biggest threat to peace in region, saying that Turkey fully stands by Azerbaijan.