Scores of Civilians Killed in Nagorno-k Karabakh Conflict

Scores of Civilians Killed in Nagorno-k Karabakh Conflict

The Armenian and Azerbaijani forces’ repeated use of notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate weapons – including cluster munitions and explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated civilian areas – violated international humanitarian law and killed scores of civilians, injured hundreds and destroyed homes and key infrastructure in the recent conflict, Amnesty International said today.

The organization’s new report, In the Line of Fire: Civilian casualties from unlawful strikes in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, is based on an on-the-ground investigation on both sides and details 18 strikes by Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which unlawfully killed civilians. In all, at least 146 civilians, including multiple children and older people, died in the 44-day conflict between late September and early November 2020.

Armenian forces employed inaccurate ballistic missiles, unguided multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), and artillery. Azerbaijani forces also used unguided artillery and MLRS. Authorities on both sides have denied launching indiscriminate strikes against civilian areas and using cluster munitions – despite clear evidence that they both have done so.

“By using these imprecise and deadly weapons in the vicinity of civilian areas, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces violated the laws of war and showed disregard for human life,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

By using these imprecise and deadly weapons in the vicinity of civilian areas, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces violated the laws of war and showed disregard for human life.

Civilian casualties would almost certainly have been much higher were it not for the fact that many people had either fled affected areas or taken shelter in basements when the conflict started.

The organization interviewed 79 survivors, witnesses and relatives of civilians killed and injured in the strikes, in addition to local civilian and military authorities, NGO workers and journalists.

Amnesty International’s Crisis Response team analyzed fragments of munitions used in the attacks and examined videos, photographs, and satellite images taken during the conflict.

“Our research revealed a pattern of indiscriminate and disproportionate strikes by both sides that killed and harmed civilians and damaged civilian objects. Attacks were repeatedly carried out on civilian residential areas far from frontlines, and where there often did not appear to be any military targets in the vicinity,” said Marie Struthers.

Attacks by Armenian forces

Amnesty International documented eight strikes carried out by Armenian forces on towns and villages in Azerbaijan which killed a total of 72 civilians.

In the city of Ganja on 17 October, 21 civilians were killed and more than 50 injured when a SCUD-B ballistic missile hit the Mukhtar Hajiyev neighbourhood. Sudaba Asgarova’s daughter Nigar was killed in the strike, a day before her 15th birthday. “She was my only child. She was all I had,” Sudaba told Amnesty International.

Ramiz Gahramanov, 64, told Amnesty International that in the same strike his daughter Khatira, 34, was killed along with her son Orhan, 11, and two daughters Maryam, six, and Laman, 18. In the aftermath of the blast, Ramiz said: “I looked down and when I saw that the house had been completely destroyed, I immediately knew that they had all died because nobody could have survived such destruction.

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