Nagorno Karabakh: Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of bombing the historic Shusha Cathedral

3 hours ago
Shusha Cathedral

Image Released, Getty Images

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of bombing a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh as fighting continued over the disputed area.

The photos showed damage to the interior and exterior of the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Shusha.

More than 300 people have been killed and thousands displaced since the last fighting erupted on 27 September.

International observers from the United States, Russia and France began their efforts to try to end the violence.

International observers will meet the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan in Geneva on Thursday. The Armenian foreign minister is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Monday.

Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but its administration is controlled by the Armenians.

What is the latest Developments in Nagorno-Karabakh?

The Cathedral of Gazanschots (of the Holy Savior in Shusha, a popular site of the Armenian Apostolic Church) was severely damaged, according to foreign journalists at the scene.

Part of the roof collapsed, rubble was scattered on the floor, seats collapsed, and dust covered the building from the inside due to the demolition of some limestone walls.

A resident of the region, Samaan, told AFP: “There is no army and nothing strategic here, how can you target a church? It is a very important cathedral for the Armenians. God will be the judge.”

A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry, Artsron Hovhannisyan, accused “enemy Azerbaijan” of targeting the cathedral.

Also on Thursday, Armenia announced the dismissal of the head of its National Security Agency, but did not mention a reason for this.

For its part, Azerbaijan said that its second largest city, Ganga, and Goranboy region were bombed by Armenian forces, killing at least one civilian.

What is the regional reaction to the fighting?

Iran, which borders Armenia and Azerbaijan, warned on Wednesday that the fighting could turn into a “regional war”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Peace is the basis of our work and we hope to restore stability to the region in a peaceful way.”

Rohani

Image Released, Getty Images

However, he also said that it was “completely unacceptable” that any stray shells and rockets landed on Iranian territory, after reports of shells landed on Iranian border villages.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the fighting, which he described as a “tragedy”.

“We are very concerned,” he said in a television interview. “We hope this conflict will end in the near future. People are dying.” [و] There are heavy losses on both sides. “

Russia is part of a military alliance with Armenia and has a military base in the country. However, it also has close ties with the government of Azerbaijan.

How did the recent fighting escalate?

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war on Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988-1994, and a ceasefire was finally declared. However, the two countries have not reached a settlement to the conflict, and tensions have long grown between them.

The two former Soviet republics blamed each other for the latest escalation, which saw the fiercest fighting since 2016, when at least 200 people were killed in clashes.

Shusha Cathedral

Image Released, Getty Images

According to the human rights official in the area, Artak Beglerian, the clashes have displaced half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population – about 70,000 people.

The main city in Nagorno Karabakh, Stepanakert, was bombed for several days, forcing residents to take refuge in cellars, and much of the city remained without electricity.

There are concerns that the actual death toll among military forces on all sides and civilians will be much higher, as the number of casualties has not been independently verified.

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