Nagorno-Karabakh says death toll among its military rises to 350 since start of conflict

In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 photo, an Armenian soldier fires an artillery piece during fighting with Azerbaijan's forces in self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan. Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 08 October 2020

Nagorno-Karabakh says death toll among its military rises to 350 since start of conflict

  • New fighting erupted as Russia, US and France seek Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire
  • Armenia said it had dismissed the head of its National Security Service in a presidential decree

YEREVAN: Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians fought new clashes on Thursday before talks at which the United States, France and Russia will discuss how to secure a ceasefire and avert a wider war in the South Caucasus.
Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov will meet US, Russian and French envoys in Geneva on Thursday and Armenia’s foreign minister, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, is expected to meet officials form the three countries in Moscow on Monday.
The talks mark the start of a concerted drive by the three powers to halt fighting that flared on Sept. 27, increasing concerns about the security of pipelines in Azerbaijan that carry natural gas and oil to Europe.
Washington, Paris and Moscow are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group that has led mediation in decades of conflict over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan but it is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians, who broke away in a 1991-94 war that killed about 30,000.
“The position of the United States has been clear and has not changed: both sides must cease hostilities immediately and work with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible,” a US spokesman in Geneva said.
Hours before the talks were due to start, Azerbaijan said the city of Ganja, deep inside the former Soviet republic, had been shelled by Armenian forces.
One civilian had been killed in Azerbaijan’s Goranboy region and other villages and towns were fired on by ethnic Armenian forces, it said.
Azeri authorities say 30 civilians have been killed and 143 wounded since Sept. 27 but have not disclosed information about military casualties.
Nagorno-Karabakh said its main administrative centre, Stepanakert, had been shelled and that 30 servicemen had been killed, taking its military death toll to 350 since Sept. 27. It says 19 civilians have also been killed and many wounded.
Following the latest reports of fighting, Armenia said it had dismissed the head of its National Security Service in a presidential decree. It gave no reason.


Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

Updated 2 min 58 sec ago

Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

  • Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June
  • ‘One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos’
HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday that the city’s new national security law has been “remarkably effective in restoring stability” after months of political unrest, and that bringing normalcy back to the political system is an urgent priority.
Lam made the comments in her annual policy address, more than a month after it was postponed so that she could seek Beijing’s support for various economic measures aimed at reviving the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s economy.
Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June, aiming to crack down on dissent following months of anti-government protests in the city that at times descended into violence. Last year’s protests were triggered by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to the mainland. The proposal was eventually scrapped.
“Advocacies of Hong Kong independence and collusions with external forces have progressively subsided, some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile, radical organizations have ceased operations or dissolved,” Lam said in her address.
“After a year of social unrest with fear for personal safety, Hong Kong people can once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law,” she said.
Lam also criticized foreign governments for interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, saying it had jeopardized national security.
Beijing has in recent months taken a tougher stance on dissent in Hong Kong, sparking concerns over the possible end of the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong has been operating since it was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.
Earlier this month, China passed a resolution disqualifying four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers after they were accused of violating their oaths of office. The move prompted all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse as a show of solidarity.
Lam said that Hong Kong has experienced one of its most severe political challenges over the past year.
“One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos,” she said.
She said the government would introduce a bill by the end of this year to amend local laws related to oath-taking, to “deal with those who have engaged in conduct that breaches the oath of the swearing-in.”