Azerbaijan and Armenia have accused each other of violating a two-day-old ceasefire in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Dozens of people were killed this week in four days of shelling and rocket strikes between Azerbaijan's military and Armenian-backed separatists, prompting fears of an all-out war.

Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry has said 31 of its soldiers have been killed since Saturday (2 April). Karabakh has acknowledged the loss of 30 fighters and confirmed 101 have been wounded. Each party put enemy losses in the hundreds, rival claims that could not be independently verified. Several civilians also have been killed on both sides.

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Gevorg Grigoryan, 12, who was wounded in shelling, receives treatment at a hospital in Nagorno Karabakh's main city of Stepanakert on 2 AprilAreg Balayan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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An Armenian volunteer is seen in the town of Askeran on 2 AprilHrayr Badalyan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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Armenian servicemen fire an artillery shell towards Azeri forces from their positions in the town of Martakert in the Armenian-controlled region of Nagorny Karabakh on 3 April 2016Vahram Baghdasaryan/AFP
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Armenian volunteers in Yerevan select helmets as they prepare to leave for the Nagorno-Karabakh region, on 3 AprilHayk Baghdasaryan/Photolure/Reuters
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Azeri servicemen bring their comrade, who was wounded during clashes with Armenian forces, to a hospital in the town of Terter, Azerbaijan, on 3 AprilTofik Babyev/AFP
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People surround a coffin with the body of an Armenian serviceman killed in clashes over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, during a memorial service at a church in Yerevan on 4 AprilVaro Rafayelyan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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Boys who were wounded in shelling during clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces, receive medical treatment at a hospital in Stepanakert, the unrecognised capital of Nagorny Karabakh, on 4 AprilKaren Minasayan/AFP
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An aerial view of a settlement in Martakert province, which according to Armenian media was hit in clashes with Azeri forcesDavit Abrahamyan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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A man looks at the roof of a house that was damaged during clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces, in the village of Garagoyunlu, outside Terter, Azerbaijan, on 4 AprilTofik Babyev/AFP
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A soldier of the self-defence army of Nagorno-Karabakh carries weapons in Martakert province on 4 AprilVahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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Local residents wait in a car as they flee from the village of Talish on 6 AprilReuters
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A serviceman of the self-defence army of Nagorno-Karabakh stands next to a destroyed military car in the village of Talish on 6 AprilReuters
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Two men load belongings into the back of a truck in the village of Talish, on 6 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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Soldiers of the defence army of Nagorny Karabakh patrol on a road in the village of Talish, on 6 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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Volunteers of the army of Nagorny Karabakh stand in the back of a truck in the town of Askeran, some 15km north of Stepanakert, on 6 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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Soldiers of the defence army of Nagorny Karabakh gather in the village of Mataghis, some 70km north of Stepanakert, on 6 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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An Armenian soldier walks past a damaged military vehicle in the village of Talish, 80km north of Stepanakert, on 6 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian visits a wounded soldier at the Defence Ministry's hospital in Yerevan on 4 AprilHrant Khachatryan/AFP
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A view of Stepanakert, the unrecognised capital of the Armenian-seized Azerbaijani region of Nagorny KarabakhKaren Minasayan/AFP
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Army volunteers ride on trucks in Karabakh's unrecognised capital Stepanakert, on 7 AprilKaren Minasyan/AFP
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Bodies of Azeri servicemen, who according to Armenian media were killed in the fighting with Armenian forces, lie on the ground near the village of Talish in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, on 6 AprilDavit Abrahamyan/PAN Photo/Reuters
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Ethnic Armenian soldiers are seen in a trench at artillery positions near the town of Martuni, on 7 AprilReuters
Armenia Azerbaijan Karabakh
An ethnic Armenian soldier takes a rest at an artillery position near the town of Martuni, on 7 AprilReuters

Although a ceasefire was agreed on Tuesday (5 April) at a private meeting in Moscow between representatives of the warring sides, each side has alleged the other violated the truce claiming their servicemen had been killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous enclave within Azerbaijan's borders, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians who reject Azerbaijan's rule. With support from Armenia they fought a war in the early 1990s to establish de facto control over the territory. The fighting this week was the most intense since a 1994 ceasefire that ended the conflict but did not resolve the underlying dispute.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and Europe have been cultivating ties in the South Caucasus region, which includes Azerbaijan, Armenia and their common neighbour Georgia. Western powers see the region as a strategically-important corridor through which Caspian Sea oil and gas can be exported to world markets. The route bypasses Russia, so reducing Moscow's stranglehold on energy exports. Neighbouring Iran has also joined diplomatic efforts to prevent a full-blown war that could destabilise the important Caucasus region.