Azerbaijan said on Sunday that Armenian forces fired rockets at its second city of Ghania, killing a civilian, wounding four people, and threatening to retaliate and destroy military targets in Armenia.
These developments marked a sharp escalation of the South Caucasus war that broke out a week ago.
So far, the main fighting has been between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian settlement within Azerbaijan, but it may now spread to a direct war with Armenia itself.
“Azerbaijan will destroy military targets directly inside Armenia from which shelling of its population centres is taking place,” presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said.
He said there were also civilian casualties in Beyalagan, another Azerbaijani region bordering Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia denies that it has ever launched “any form of shooting” on Azerbaijan. The leader of Nagorno-Karabakh said his troops targeted a military base in Ganja, but later stopped shooting to avoid civilian casualties.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, said on Twitter that his troops occupied the town of Jabrail and several villages. If confirmed, it would be a major improvement on the southern edge of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan dismissed the claim as “yet another fabrication”. Independent verification was not possible.