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Armenia, Azerbaijan trade blame for new ceasefire violations | Conflict News

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of breaking a fragile ceasefire agreement that had brought the worst fighting between the two ex-Soviet countries since 2020 to a close last week.

In statements issued by their defence ministries on Friday morning, Baku and Yerevan each accused the other side of firing first in renewed clashes along their shared border overnight.

Following two days of clashes that killed nearly 200 soldiers early last week, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire, brokered by Russia, to end hostilities, though the situation on the border has remained tense.

“On September 23, at 07:40 (03:40 GMT), units of the Azerbaijani armed forces again violated the ceasefire regime by firing from different positions against Armenian combat positions located in the eastern area of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” Armenia’s defence ministry said in a post on Facebook on Friday.

“The enemy’s fire was suppressed by retaliatory actions,” Armenia added, reporting no casualties.

Shortly after the Armenian statement, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry issued a response, saying it was Armenia that opened fire first.

Baku said Armenia’s armed forces had opened fire on three different areas of the shared border, “intermittently shelling positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces with mixed-caliber small arms” over nine hours starting at 11:45pm (19:45 GMT) on Thursday night.

In a statement published on the Telegram messaging app, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry also said it had taken “adequate retaliatory measures”.

‘Unspeakable atrocities’

On Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan used his address before the United Nations to accuse Azerbaijan of “unspeakable atrocities” during the latest clashes between the two rivals, including mutilating the bodies of dead soldiers.

“There are evidences of cases of torture, mutilation of captured or already dead servicemen, numerous instances of extrajudicial killings and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners of war, as well as humiliating treatment of the bodies,” he told the UN General Assembly.

“The dead bodies of Armenian female military personnel were mutilated, and then proudly video recorded with particular cruelty by the Azerbaijani servicemen.”

As Pashinyan spoke, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov, who is set to address the global body this weekend, watched impassively.

Pashinyan went on: “No doubt, committing such unspeakable atrocities is a direct result of a decades-long policy of implanting anti-Armenian hatred and animosity in the Azerbaijani society by the political leadership.”

He also accused Azerbaijan of shelling civilian facilities and infrastructure deep inside his country’s territory, displacing more than 7,600 people, as well as leaving three civilians dead and two missing.

“This was not a border clash. It was a direct, undeniable attack against the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Armenia,” he said.

The speech comes just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged peace between the two sides in a meeting where he hosted both countries’ top diplomats.

Renewed fighting

Fighting between the neighbours erupted earlier this month in clashes that left almost 200 soldiers dead – the bloodiest confrontation since a six-week war between the two ex-Soviet countries in 2020.

The fighting is linked to decades-old hostilities over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but until 2020 largely controlled by the majority ethnic Armenian population.

Armenia said Azerbaijan attacked its territory and seized settlements inside its borders, beyond the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan said it was responding to “provocations” from the Armenian side.

Russia is a military ally of Armenia though also tries to maintain friendly relations with Azerbaijan and has resisted Yerevan’s calls to trigger a mutual self-defence clause. Baku is backed militarily, financially and politically by Turkey.

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With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

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Haiti reports cholera deaths for first time in 3 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s government on Sunday announced that at least eight people have died from cholera, raising concerns about another potentially catastrophic epidemic like the one that broke out a decade ago and killed nearly 10,000 people.

The cases – the first cholera deaths reported in three years – came in a community called Dekayet in southern Port-au-Prince and in the gang-controlled seaside slum of Cite de Soleil, where thousands of people live in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

“Cholera is something that can spread very, very quickly,” warned Laure Adrien, director general of Haiti’s health ministry.

Food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration that can be deadly.

The United Nations said in a statement that it is working with Haiti’s government to “mount an emergency response to this potential outbreak,” stressing that health teams need to be guaranteed safe access to areas where cases have been reported.

The deaths come as a lack of fuel and ongoing protests shut down the availability of basic services across Haiti, including medical care and clean water, which is key to helping fight cholera and keep patients alive.

Haiti’s most powerful gang continues to control the entrance to a main fuel terminal in the capital of Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of fuel amid soaring prices that have unleashed widespread protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

The absence of fuel and increasing number of roadblocks have prevented water trucks from visiting neighborhoods to provide potable water to those who can afford it. It also has prompted some companies to temporarily shut down operations.

On Sunday, Caribbean Bottling Company said it could no longer produce or distribute potable water because its diesel reserves were “completely depleted,” adding that the lack of such a vital resource would affect “all sectors of society.”

Adrien said health officials were trying to visit communities where cholera has been reported, but that his agency, too, has been affected by a lack of fuel as he called on people blocking the gas terminal and organizing protests to “have a conscience.”

“This is a real problem,” he said of how the country has virtually been paralyzed. “We’re hoping this will not spread.”

Adrien noted that all those who died were unable to reach a hospital in time.

Haiti Health Minister Alex Larsen said people have a right to protest but asked Haitians to allow potable water supplies into neighborhoods that have been cut off by roadblocks and protests.

“Water has not been in these areas for a long time, and people are not drinking treated water,” he said, adding that cholera cases could spike again. “We ask people who can afford it to add a little chlorine to the water.”

Haiti’s last cholera epidemic sickened more than 850,000 people in a country of more than 11 million, marking one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the preventable disease in recent history.

United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that is has not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically said it introduced the disease.

Haiti would have been declared cholera-free by the World Health Organization only after reaching three consecutive years with no new cases.

———

Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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‘Dilemma for the Russians’ after surrendering key Ukraine city | Russia-Ukraine war News

The recapture of Lyman city in the east – in territory recently annexed by Moscow – raises questions about how Russia can hold surrounding areas with supply routes severed.

Questions about Russia’s faltering military operation in Ukraine continue to be raised as Kyiv announced it was in full control of the key eastern city of Lyman after Moscow’s troops pulled back.

It is Kyiv’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks, providing a potential staging post for increased attacks to the east while heaping further pressure on the Kremlin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Sunday that his forces had taken over Lyman after encircling it the day before.

“As of 12:30pm (09:30 GMT) Lyman is cleared fully. Thank you to our militaries, our warriors,” he said in a video address.

Russia’s military did not comment on Lyman on Sunday after announcing the previous day it was withdrawing its forces there to move to “more favourable positions”.

‘Sort of a dilemma’

The loss of Lyman is a significant blow to Russian forces, who have used the city for months as a crucial logistics and rail hub in the Donetsk region to move military equipment, troops, and other necessary supplies.

“Without those routes, it will be more difficult so it presents a sort of a dilemma for the Russians going forward,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

Lyman, which Ukraine recaptured by encircling Russian troops, is in the Donetsk region near the border with the Luhansk region. These are two of the four regions or oblasts that Russia annexed on Friday after people there voted in referendums, which Ukraine and the West called illegitimate.

The Institute for the Study of War, a United States-based think-tank, said the fall of Lyman suggested Russia was “deprioritizing defending Luhansk” to hold occupied territory in southern Ukraine. 

“Ukrainian and Russian sources consistently indicate that Russian forces continued to reinforce Russian positions in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts, despite the recent collapse of the Kharkiv-Izyum front and even as the Russian positions around Lyman collapsed,” it said

‘Courage, bravery, skills’

In a daily intelligence briefing on Sunday, the United Kingdom’s military described the recapture of Lyman as a “significant political setback” for Moscow. Taking the city paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push farther into Russian-occupied territory.

Ukraine’s capture of a city within territory of President Vladimir Putin’s declared annexation demonstrates that Ukrainians are able to push back Russian forces, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.

“We have seen that they have been able to take a new town, Lyman, and that demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces because of the courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but of course also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with American broadcaster NBC.

Ukrainian forces have retaken swaths of territory, notably in the northeast around Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive in recent weeks that has embarrassed the Kremlin and prompted rare domestic criticism of Putin’s war.

A pomp-filled Kremlin annexation ceremony on Friday has failed to stem a wave of criticism within Russia of how its “special military operation” is being handled.

Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday called for a change of strategy “right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”.

Other hawkish Russian figures criticised Russian generals and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on social media for overseeing the setbacks, but stopped short of attacking Putin.

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