Azerbaijan bombed iconic Armenian cathedral in Nagorno Karabakh

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It is the Church of Christ the Savior in Shusha. The official balance of the fighting since September 27 is between 300 and 400 dead, including about 50 civilians.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued their fighting this Thursday in Nagorno Karabakh, where an iconic Armenian cathedral was bombed twice, a bad omen for the first meeting in Geneva of the international mediators in the conflict.

The Azerbaijani bombings continued all night in Stepanakert, capital of the separatist territory, confirmed AFP journalists at the scene. There were also bombings on populated areas of Azerbaijan, according to the authorities of this country.

An Armenian church in Shusha, about 15 kilometers south of Stepanakert, was badly damaged in shelling this Thursday morning, according to Yerevan, but Azerbaijan denied being involved in those attacks.

While no casualties were reported in the first bombing, in the second Russian and local journalists were injured, one of them seriously.

After the first bombing, an AFP correspondent confirmed major damage to the site: a large hole in the roof of the building, smashed stained glass windows and benches and various religious objects, fallen in the dust and rubble.

Shusha Cathedral had been rebuilt in the 1990s after the first Nagorno Karabakh war, and became a symbol for Armenians.

The Azerbaijani army denied having fired at the cathedral, claiming not to target “historical, cultural, and particularly religious buildings and monuments.”

On the other hand, Azerbaijan accused the separatists of having “fired at areas inhabited” by civilians, citing the districts of Bardinsk, Agdjabedin, Goranboy, Terter and Agdam. “There are dead and wounded,” according to his defense ministry.

“We are at home and we will not go anywhere else. I say this with my heart, we are not afraid of anything, “said Abdul Jeyjun Guliyev, in the Azerbaijani village of Aljanly, close to the front. However, the village would have been bombed at night and together with his family took refuge in the basement.

For their part, representatives of Russia, the United States and France, co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) They were to meet this Thursday in Geneva with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Ceyhun Bayramov.

This group has been a mediator in this conflict since the 1990s.. The first war between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijani forces in the 1990s, after the fall of the USSR, left 30,000 dead.

Azerbaijan is determined to reconquer Nagorno Karabakh, a separatist region populated mainly by Armenians, albeit by force of arms, and maintains that only a withdrawal of all forces could end the conflict.

In this context, a spokeswoman for Armenian diplomacy ruled out a meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian ministers in Geneva, because “you cannot negotiate with one hand and carry out military operations with the other “, and denounced the aggression against Nagorno Karabakh.

However, the head of Armenian diplomacy would meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday in Moscow. The latter’s spokeswoman declared that Russia is negotiating to achieve a meeting of the ministers of both fields.

His French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said he hoped that the Geneva and Moscow meetings could “lead to the opening of negotiations.”

According to the separatist authorities, half of the approximately 140,000 inhabitants of Nagorno Karabakh they have been displaced in the last twelve days.


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