Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of violating humanitarian truce

People inspect the damage following an overnight missile attack by Armenian forces, in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 18 October 2020

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of violating humanitarian truce

  • Yerevan’s defense ministry spokeswoman said Azerbaijan had fired artillery shells and rockets in the early hours of Sunday
  • Saturday’s cease-fire followed a major escalation that saw a missile strike kill 13 people including small children in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja

STEPANAKERT: Armenia on Sunday accused Azerbaijan of violating a fresh humanitarian truce aimed at halting weeks of fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region that has claimed hundreds of lives.
Yerevan’s defense ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said on Twitter that Azerbaijan had fired artillery shells and rockets in the early hours of Sunday, just minutes after the cease-fire went into effect from midnight (2000 GMT).
There was no immediate reaction from Azerbaijan.
Saturday’s cease-fire followed a major escalation that saw a missile strike kill 13 people including small children in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja, for which President Ilham Aliyev vowed to take “revenge.”
A previous truce brokered by Russia to allow the warring sides to exchange prisoners and bodies and begin “substantive” talks quickly broke down, with both accusing each other of violations.
Azerbaijan and the Armenian separatists who control its Karabakh region have been locked in a bitter impasse over the fate of the mountainous province since a war in the 1990s that left 30,000 people dead.
Clashes erupted again three weeks ago and have killed at least 700 people, threatened to draw in regional powers Russia and Turkey, and raised alarm over the failure of a decades-long international mediation.
The real death toll is probably much higher since Azerbaijan has not published fatalities among its soldiers.
With neither side making decisive gains — and a smokescreen of claims and counter-claims of victory blurring events on the frontline — there is no telling when the fighting will end.
The latest cease-fire came after Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vowed to take revenge on Armenia after a missile strike killed 13 people including small children in the city of Ganja.
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 more than 45 people injured in an attack Aliyev described as “a war crime.”
He said his army would “take revenge on the battlefield” and promised to capture Karabakh by driving out Armenian forces “like dogs.”
Prosecutors said that as the result of the attack on Ganjia 13 people died including small children.
An AFP team in Ganja saw rows of houses turned to rubble by the strike, which shattered walls and ripped roofs off buildings in the surrounding streets.
“We were sleeping and suddenly we heard the blast. The door, glass, everything shattered over us,” said Durdana Mammadova, 69, who was standing on the street at daybreak because her house was destroyed.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s military said for its part that Azerbaijani forces had stepped up their attacks on Friday across the front, shelling Stepanakert and a nearby town.
On Saturday, Karabakh separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan had said before the truce took effect that “intensive fighting” continued “along the entire line of defense.”
The EU on Saturday condemned the strikes on Ganja and said the original cease-fire deal “must be fully respected without delay.”
“All targeting of civilians and civilian installations by either party must stop,” said a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.
Turkey, a staunch ally of Azerbaijan and 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.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and backed by Yerevan, has been the scene of deadly clashes since September 27.
It has remained under separatist Armenian control since a 1994 cease-fire ended the post-Soviet conflict.


Man who spoke to Manchester bomber was ignored by security, inquiry hears

Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Man who spoke to Manchester bomber was ignored by security, inquiry hears

  • Christopher Wild said he accosted Salman Abedi before he committed fatal terror attack
  • Salman Abedi would later detonate an explosive device inside Manchester Arena, killing 22 people

LONDON: A parent who spoke to a man he suspected was a terrorist at a music venue in the UK, before a fatal attack was carried out, has said his concerns were ignored by security.

Christopher Wild was at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, to pick up his 14-year-old daughter and her friend after attending an Ariana Grande concert when he saw a man who he thought could “let a bomb off” with a rucksack hiding on a mezzanine.

The man, Salman Abedi, would later detonate an explosive device inside the arena, killing 22 people.

Wild was speaking at a public inquiry into the attack, which is taking evidence on events in the build up and aftermath of the tragedy.

He said he was waiting with his partner Julie Whitley and said: “I just thought he could be very dangerous.”

He said he had spotted Abedi with a rucksack, and his partner had said to him: “It’s a kids’ concert. Why should he be sat there with a massive rucksack out of sight of everyone? It’s just very strange.”

Wild added: “I started to think about things that happened in the world and I just thought he could be very dangerous.”

He said he addressed Abedi despite feeling “a bit bad” for thinking he might be a terrorist. Wild said he asked him: “It doesn’t look very good you know, what you see with bombs and such, you with a rucksack in a place like this. What are you doing?”

He said Abedi responded: “I’m waiting for somebody mate. Have you got the time? What time is it?”

Wild added that he then approached Mohammed Agha, an event steward at the venue who was in the foyer below the mezzanine.

“He (Agha) said he already knew about him. That was about it really,” Wild said. “It was as if he had more important things to deal with — but in no way do I blame him because the guy was already in there. There was nothing more he could do.”

Whitley was badly injured in the explosion. She told the inquiry that Abedi’s rucksack had caught her eye because it was “massive,” and she believed he might have been a “dodgy merchandiser.”