The government of Azerbaijan reported on Saturday (17) that 12 civilians were killed and more than 40 injured in the city of Ganja, the second largest in the country, in a bombing raid by Armenia. According to Azerbaijan, two projectiles hit residential buildings. The Armenian government did not speak out.
Journalists at the AFP news agency spotted a building destroyed by the missile. Around 3 am, neighbors fled the area in tears, some in pajamas.
“We were sleeping. The children were watching TV,” said Rubaba Zhafarova, 65, in front of his destroyed home. “All the houses in the vicinity have been destroyed. Many people are under rubble. Some are dead.”
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Dozens of rescuers worked on the site in search of survivors. According to residents, more than 20 people lived in the affected area. A neighbor said he saw a boy, two women and four men being removed from the rubble.
The Azerbaijani government accuses Armenia of bombing the city of Ganja on Saturday (17) – Photo: Umit Bektas / Reuters
Hikmat Hajiyev, an adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said on Twitter that, “according to initial information, more than 20 homes have been destroyed”.
An Azerbaijani official said a second missile hit an industrial area in Ganja at the same time, but gave no details. The city, of more than 300 thousand inhabitants, was hit last Sunday by another missile, which left 10 dead.
AFP journalists in Mingecevir, an hour from Ganja, said they heard an explosion that shook real estate around the same time. The city is protected by an anti-missile system as it houses a strategic dam. It was not known whether the missiles were destroyed in mid-flight or hit the city.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense merely reported that Mingecevir was the target of an attack, without giving details.
5 points to understand the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Clashes in Nagorno-Karbakh
Saturday’s bombing is yet another episode of violence after escalating tension between the two countries over the dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region that is in Azerbaijan but is of ethnic Armenian majority.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory populated mainly by Armenians. The region declared independence from Azerbaijan just before the fall of the Soviet Union. This movement sparked a war that caused 30,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees from both sides in the 1990s.
Since then, Baku has accused Armenia of occupying its territory and armed clashes are recurrent.
The current clashes have been the most serious since 1994. After nearly 30 years of diplomatic stalemate, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Alyev, promised to regain control of this territory, including by force, if necessary.
Countries blame each other for this year’s conflicts, which have already caused more than 600 deaths.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Map – Photo: Alexandre Mauro / G1