STEPANAKERT, NKR (A.W.)—Four Armenian servicemen were killed on Sept. 25 in an offensive operation launched by Azerbaijan. Norayr Khachatryan (b. 1995), Robert Mkrtchyan (b. 1995), Harout Hakobyan (b. 1997), and Karen Shahinyan (b. 1997) of the Artsakh Armed Forces were killed in the Azerbaijani attack, announced the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Ministry of Defense.
According to the ministry, Azerbaijani forces used Turkish-made TR-107 rocket launchers in the attack. Intensive shelling reportedly took place on Sept. 24 and 25.
A day earlier, 83-year-old Parakavar resident Baydzar Aghajanyan and Berdavan residents Shushan Asatryan, 94, and Sona Revezyan , 41, were killed by Azerbaijani artillery fire that targeted Armenian border villages in Armenia’s Tavush province. Four other residents were wounded in the attack.
“The Republic of Armenia urges the Azerbaijani civilian population on the border areas to refrain from becoming a human shield for the military of Azerbaijan,” read a statement released by the Armenian Ministry of Defense following the attack on border villages, stressing that “Armenian military forces will take necessary measures to stabilize the situation, the consequences of which will be on the shoulders of the Azerbaijani military leadership.”
On Sept. 25, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) parliamentary faction secretary Aghvan Vardanyan noted that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairing countries had the power to reduce tension on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and to prevent the killing of innocent civilians, if they so willed and proceeded to work together accordingly.
The Minsk Group co-chairs Igor Popov, James Warlick, and Pierre Andrieu, as well as the personal representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office Andrzej Kasprzyk, met with Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian on Sept. 24, during which Nalbandian expressed his indignation over the violations of the ceasefire by Azerbaijan.
The OSCE Minsk Group released a statement on Sept. 25 condemning the recent attacks and “casualties on each side of the international border and Line of Contact.” In the statement, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs expressed their “serious concern about Armenian and Azerbaijani forces using mortars and heavy weapons in and around civilian areas.” The group steered clear of blaming Azerbaijan for the killing of the three Armenian civilian women on Sept. 25, instead opting for what observers have called the group’s habit of projecting “artificial even-handedness” and addressing their appeal to both sides to refrain from targeting civilians.