July 15, 2020 / 7:54 AM / a month ago

Azeri police arrest demonstrators who broke into the parliament

BAKU, July 15 (Reuters) - Baton-wielding riot police arrested dozens of people who broke into Azerbaijan’s parliament on Wednesday after marching through the capital Baku to show solidarity with the army following border clashes with Armenia’s military.

A Reuters witness said thousands of people took part in the march in Baku and there were demonstrations in other cities despite coronavirus restrictions which ban large gatherings in the South Caucasus country.

Demonstrators entered the parliament building in Baku as emotions intensified after the march. Their action did not appear to be intended as a protest against the authorities.

Eleven Azeri soldiers and a civilian, and four Armenian servicemen, have been killed since Sunday in border clashes around the Tavush region in northeast Armenia.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war in the 1990s over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region which is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians, who declared independence as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Some of the demonstrators who gathered in a square outside Azerbaijan’s parliament after Wednesday’s march in Baku shouted “Karabakh!”. Other chanted: “Our homeland is indivisible!”

The international community worries about clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in part because of the threat to instability in the South Caucasus, a region that serves as a corridor for pipelines taking oil and gas to world markets. (Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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