Ceasefire, Day 3: Mediators in shuttle diplomacy amid lingering tensions in Karabakh

International mediators representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are visiting Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday amid reports of violations of the fragile ceasefire agreed by Armenia and Azerbaijan on April 5 after days of intense fighting.

The Russian, American and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group were in Baku on Wednesday to discuss ways to end bloodshed in the conflict zone that has killed scores on both sides since the latest flare-up of confrontation on April 2. They are also expected to visit Yerevan on April 9 after talks with authorities in Stepanakert.

Cessation of hostilities became possible apparently through Russian mediation as the chiefs of the general staffs of the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan conducted talks and reached agreement in Moscow.

While the temporary ceasefire has largely held during the past two days, sporadic skirmishes and clashes resulting in loss of life have still kept tensions high in the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh has accused Azerbaijan of continuing to fire at the line of contact, while Armenia also reported ceasefire violations at its border with Azerbaijan that remained relatively calm during the four-day clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Defense Army of Nagorno-Karabakh said that Azerbaijani commandoes attempted to carry out subversive and reconnaissance activities in the northeaster direction (Talish) that saw one of the deadliest clashes on April 2-4. The raid was reportedly stopped by the Karabakh forces that took up “organized defense”.

One Azerbaijani commando was reportedly killed in the “close engagement” that the Karabakh Defense Ministry said showed that Azerbaijan did not respect the ceasefire agreement and tried to “destabilize the highly explosive situation.”

Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesman for Armenia’s defense minister, said that during almost the whole day on April 6 units of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces intensively fired in the direction of military units and populated areas around the town of Vardenis in the east of Armenia.

“Armenian armed forces did everything not to violate the agreement on ceasefire and halt of troops’ advancement,” Hovhannisyan said.

David Babayan, a spokesperson for the Nagorno-Karabakh president, meanwhile, told Radiolur that the Azerbaijani side fired and destroyed an ambulance car that had left to the frontline to transport the bodies of killed soldiers. Babayan said no one was inside the destroyed ambulance car, but said the act was a gross violation of the international humanitarian law, in particular, the Geneva Convention.