The shelling by Azerbaijani forces of the Karabakh capital Stepanakert resumed late on Wednesday and continued periodically until the next morning. The city’s remaining residents mostly hiding in bomb shelters could hear powerful explosions and the sound of air raid sirens during the night.
One local man examined afterwards the damage to his home caused by recent day’s artillery fire. “No one is staying home,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “So they shouldn’t try in vain to kill us.”
“My sons are on the frontline,” he added. “They say that everything will be alright.”
Another Stepanakert resident said he is still not planning to take refuge in Armenia. “Either we should die or live on our land,” said the middle-aged man.
The Azerbaijani army shelled the nearby town of Shushi (Shusha) and seriously damaged its famous Armenian cathedral in the afternoon. Photographs taken at the scene and posted on social media showed a gaping hole on the Ghazanchetsots church’s roof and debris scattered inside it.
According to officials in Stepanakert, 19 civilian residents of Karabakh have been killed and 80 others wounded since the September 27 outbreak of large-scale hostilities along the “line of contact” around Karabakh. The fighting has also left two residents of Armenian villages close to the Azerbaijani border dead.
Azerbaijani authorities reported, meanwhile, continued Armenian shelling of Azerbaijani towns and villages close to the frontlines, saying that the death toll among their residents rose to 31. They said one of those towns, Barda, was hit particularly hard on Thursday.
There were no signs of imminent end to the worst hostilities in the Karabakh conflict zone since 1994. According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, the southern sections of the “line of contact” adjacent to Iran remained the epicenter of the deadly fighting.
A ministry spokeswoman said Karabakh Armenian forces repelled at least two attacks launched by Azerbaijani troops deployed in that area. The latter suffered “substantial losses,” she said.
There was no immediate reaction to those statements from the Azerbaijani side. The Defense Ministry in Baku said only that Armenian-backed forces had shelled several Azerbaijani villages overnight, causing casualties. It said Azerbaijani forces are "taking adequate measures."
Also, the Karabakh army publicized on Thursday the names of 30 more of its soldiers killed in action since September 27. The total number of confirmed Armenian combat deaths thus reached 350.
The Azerbaijani army still not released its casualty figures.