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Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict; The Death Toll Rise to 67

Military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has intensified . Karabakh's defense ministry said 27 fighters were killed in fighting Monday - after previously reporting 28 - bringing their total military losses to 58. The overall death toll rose to 67 including nine civilian deaths: seven in Azerbaijan and two on the Armenian side. 

The dispute is over over control of the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but has been controlled by ethnic Armenians since a war ended in 1994.Tens of thousands of people died during the war and a million others were forced to leave their homes. An Armenian defense spokesman said the attack was carried out by Azerbaijan. Armenia says two Azerbaijani helicopters have crashed and three tanks have crashed.

At the same time, Azerbaijan claimed to have retaliated against the Armenian invasion and captured 7 villages in  Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both countries have declared martial law.

The conflict between the two former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus, the hub for oil and gas pipelines to the world market, has raised concerns internationally.

There have been casualties on both sides. In Armenia, a woman and a child were among those killed. A family of five in Azerbaijan was reportedly killed in an Armenian shelling.

 Nagorno-Karabakh. is an area under Armenian control, although it is officially occupied by Azerbaijan. The majority here are of Armenian descent. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, separatism intensified in the 1990s. Armenians have challenged Azerbaijan here since 1994 with the support of Armenia and have established their own government. Russia has a defense agreement with Armenia. Azerbaijan has the support of Turkey. A spokesman for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said efforts were being made to defuse tensions. Pope Francis has called for a peaceful solution.

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