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Karabakh Capital Again Shelled


Nagorno Karabakh - A residential building in Spetanakert damaged by shelling, October 2, 2020.

Rockets again struck Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert on Sunday morning in what was its worst shelling by Azerbaijani forces since the start of hostilities in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone a week ago.

Alarm sirens across the city went off as the shelling began at around 7:30 a.m. local time and continued for at least three hours.

An RFE/RL correspondent at the scene heard about two dozen powerful explosions. They cut off electricity supply to some parts of Stepanakert. It was restored about 40 minutes later.

Karabakh officials said that the city was hit by Polonez and Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems used by the Azerbaijani army. They did not immediately say if anyone was hurt by the latest artillery strike.

Most Stepanakert residents have stayed in bomb shelters since the outbreak of the war on September 27. One of them was killed and ten others wounded when the Karabakh capital was shelled on Friday.

Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, accused Azerbaijan of deliberately targeting the Armenian-populated civilian population. In a Facebook post, Harutiunian said that in response to that Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army has decided to strike “major military facilities located in Azerbaijan’s large cities.”

“I call on Azerbaijani civilians to quickly leave those cities to avoid possible losses,” he wrote.

A spokesman for Harutiunian claimed afterwards that Karabakh forces have destroyed a military airfield in Gyanja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city located a few dozen kilometers from the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh.

The Karabakh Armenian army said, for its part, that it is “dealing powerful blows to very important military facilities located deep inside Azerbaijan.”

Baku confirmed that Gyanja was hit by rockets but did not immediately specify damage caused by them. A senior Azerbaijani official said that they were fired from Armenia. The Armenian Defense Ministry swiftly denied the claim.

Baku said earlier in the day that Armenian forces are shelling two Azerbaijani towns located close to the Karabakh “line of contact.”

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