Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of killing 21 civilians in bombing of civilian areas, in the worst toll of victims, and Yerevan hastens to deny responsibility

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of killing 21 people and wounding dozens of others in a missile strike targeting an area near Nagorno Karabakh, in the worst number of civilian casualties over a month of battles around this separatist region.

Yerevan swiftly denied responsibility for this attack, the second in two days, that killed civilians in the Barda region, accusing the Azerbaijani forces of having in turn bombed populated areas in Nagorno Karabakh.

The two attacks and the mutual accusations took place two days after the failure of the US-sponsored ceasefire, which was expected to take effect on Monday.

The advisor to the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, Hikmat Hajiyev, accused the Armenian forces of launching “Smerch” missiles at a cold direction and using cluster bombs in order to “cause severe injuries among civilians”.

According to the Azerbaijani Prosecutor’s Office, this strike targeted a commercial and populated neighborhood, killing 21 civilians and wounding at least 70. 

On Tuesday, Baku had also accused Armenia of being responsible for the killing of four civilians, including a four-year-old girl, in a long cold bombing.

These losses are the worst among civilians on the Azerbaijani side since 13 people were killed in the bombing of Ganja, the second city in the country, on October 17th.

A spokeswoman for the Armenian Defense Ministry, Shushan Stepanian, was quick to denounce the accusations that are “void and unfounded,” similar to Yerevan’s denunciation of “Baku” on Tuesday.

On the other hand, Armenia asserts that Baku forces bombed the cities of Martini and Showa in Nagorno Karabakh, killing one civilian and wounding two.

The two sides announced the continuation of clashes in a number of points located on the front in this mountainous region in the Caucasus, and each of them confirmed control of the situation.

Since the renewed fighting on 27 September, Azerbaijani forces occupied areas outside Baku’s control since the 1990s when a war broke out that left 30,000 people dead and resulted in the declaration of the secession of this Armenian-inhabited region.

On Monday, Armenia admitted its loss of control of the strategic city of Gobadli in southern Nagorno Karabakh, at a time when the Azerbaijani forces were approaching a vital road, the Lachin Corridor that connects Armenia with Nagorno Karabakh.

And partial results reported that more than 1,100 people, including 100 civilians, have been killed since the resumption of fighting. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his part, spoke of about five thousand dead.

Russia, along with France and the United States, is part of the Minsk group that was long established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to be the main mediator in this conflict, with no success.

On Wednesday, Azerbaijan filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, demanding “precautionary measures” against Armenia, especially its warning to put an end to the bombing of civilian areas, according to the court.

The Azerbaijani request is based on Article 39 of the court system, which allows it to take emergency measures when there is an imminent danger that may lead to irreparable damages.