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Azer­bai­jan Pres­i­dent vows re­tal­i­a­tion for deadly strike on civil­ians in Ganja

- Military · Terrorism · Disasters · Middle East News · Incidents · Politics · Warfare and Conflicts · World Politics · Azerbaijan · Armenia · Stepanakert · Russia · Russian Empire · Turkey · Baku · Twitter · Ministry of Defense · Ganja · Ilham Aliyev · Mingachevir

Ganja, Azer­bai­jan - Azer­bai­jan’s Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev vowed on Satur­day to take re­venge on Ar­me­nia af­ter a mis­sile strike killed 12 sleep­ing peo­ple in the city of Ganja, a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion in the con­flict over the dis­puted Nagorno-Karabakh re­gion.

The early hours at­tack, which also saw a strike on the nearby strate­gic city of Minge­ce­vir, came hours af­ter Azer­bai­jani forces shelled Stepanaker­t, the cap­i­tal of the eth­nic Ar­me­nian sep­a­ratist re­gion.

The ex­plo­sions in Ganja lev­elled a row of houses and left at least 40 peo­ple in­jured in an at­tack Aliyev de­scribed as ‘a war crime’.

In tele­vised re­marks, he said his army would ‘take re­venge on the bat­tle­field’ and promised to cap­ture Karabakh by driv­ing out Ar­me­nian forces. As the sun rose over the dev­as­ta­tion in Ganja, Mayil Shakhnazar­ov (36) said it was im­pos­si­ble to iden­tify some of those killed.

“What can we say? Our pain is deep. Re­ally deep,” he said.

The seem­ing tit-for-tat at­tacks fur­ther un­der­mine in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to calm a resur­gence of fight­ing be­tween Chris­tian Ar­me­ni­ans and Mus­lim Azer­bai­ja­nis and avoid draw­ing re­gional pow­ers Rus­sia and Turkey into a con­flict that has killed hun­dreds of peo­ple.

An AFP team in Ganja saw rows of houses in Ganja turned to rub­ble by the strike, which shat­tered walls and ripped roofs off build­ings in the sur­round­ing streets.

Peo­ple ran out­side in shock and tears, stum­bling through dark muddy al­leys in their slip­pers, some wear­ing bath­room robes and py­ja­mas.

The at­tack came six days af­ter a mis­sile struck an­other res­i­den­tial part of the city of more than 300,000 peo­ple, killing ten civil

An el­derly woman weeps as peo­ple gather near a site hit by a rocket dur­ing the on­go­ing fight­ing over the re­gion of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the city of Ganja in Azer­bai­jan early on Satur­day

DURDANA MAMMADOVA

ians and leav­ing many on edge.

At the scene of the lat­est strike, Durdana Mammadova

(69) was stand­ing on the street at day­break be­cause her house was de­stroyed.

“We were sleep­ing and sud­denly we heard the blast. The door, glass, ev­ery­thing shat­tered over us,” she said.

“There was smoke and dust - we couldn’t even breath.”

Hik­mat Ha­jiyev, an as­sis­tant to Aliyev, tweeted that ac­cord­ing to ini­tial in­for­ma­tion, more than 20 houses were de­stroyed in Ganja.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s mil­i­tary

said Azer­bai­jani forces had stepped up their at­tacks on Fri­day across the front, shelling Stepanaker­t and a nearby town.

AFP jour­nal­ists in the city said strikes had hit the roof of a shop­ping cen­tre, left a crater near a bus stop and shat­tered win­dows in a nearby res­i­den­tial build­ing.

“What hap­pened here is sense­less,” said Gayane Gharibyan, an an­gry 45 year Ar­me­nian woman whose hus­band was fight­ing at the front.

“How can the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity be so in­dif­fer­ent.”

Turkey, a staunch ally of Azer­bai­jan widely ac­cused of sup­ply­ing mer­ce­nar­ies to bol­ster Baku’s forces, said the strikes were a war crime and called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to de­nounce them.

“Ar­me­nia con­tin­ues to com­mit war crimes and mas­sacre civil­ians. To re­main si­lent in the face of this sav­agery is to be com­plicit in these crimes,” Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu said on Twit­ter.

The Ar­me­nian De­fence Min­istry tweeted fol­low­ing the at­tack a list of what it de­scribed as ‘le­git­i­mate tar­gets’ in Ganja, in­clud­ing a spe­cial forces head­quar­ters and an am­mu­ni­tions fac­tory.

At around the same time in the city of Minge­ce­vir, an hour’s drive north of Ganja, AFP heard the im­pact of a huge blast that shook build­ings.

Minge­ce­vir is pro­tected by a mis­sile de­fence sys­tem be­cause it is home to a strate­gic dam.

The de­fence min­istry said Minge­ce­vir had come ‘un­der fire’, but pro­vided no other im­me­di­ate de­tails.

An Azer­bai­jani of­fi­cial said an­other mis­sile hit a sep­a­rate in­dus­trial district of Ganja at around the same time.

The decades-long NagornoKar­abakh con­flict re-erupted on Septem­ber 27 and has so far killed more than 700 peo­ple, in­clud­ing nearly 80 civil­ians.

The moun­tain­ous west­ern re­gion of Azer­bai­jan has re­mained un­der sep­a­ratist Ar­me­nian con­trol since a 1994 cease­fire ended a bru­tal war that killed 30,000.

Ar­me­nia, which backs Nagorno-Karabakh but does not recog­nise its in­de­pen­dence, has ad­mit­ted that Azer­bai­jani forces have made im­por­tant gains along the front in the past week. We were sleep­ing and sud­denly we heard the blast. The door, glass, ev­ery­thing shat­tered over us

 ?? (AFP) ??
(AFP)

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