At least 13 civilians have been killed, more than 52 people injured in the second biggest city of Azerbaijan, Ganja, as a result of a ballistic missile attack by the Armenian armed forces for the third time on the twentieth day of the heavy clashes over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
According to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, so far 13 dead bodies and 52 injured people were removed from wreckages after the rocket fire on Ganja at 01:00 local time on October 17, which was a gross violation of the humanitarian ceasefire by the Armenian army.
“This, third in a row atrocious attack on the second biggest city of Azerbaijan, since the new aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, situated far away from the frontline caused serious civilian casualties,” the press service of the Ministry of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The ministry also added that “Armenia’s deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians, in a blatant violation of norms and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, as well as declared humanitarian ceasefire, the purposeful killing of peaceful people constitute another war crime and a crime against humanity”.
Armenia’s forces launched Elbrus tactical ballistic missile on Ganja for the second time on October 11, destroying completely two residential buildings to kill 10 and wound 34 civilians. Earlier, one Azerbaijani civilian was killed and 32 others injured in the first Armenian missile attack on residential areas of Ganja, which is 60 km away from the Armenian border, on October 4.
R-17 Elbrus, designated as SS-1C Scud-B by NATO, is a Russia-made short-range ballistic rocket with a range of up to 300 kilometers. It is able to carry 985 kilograms of conventional and 5-80 kilotons of nuclear warheads.
Assistant of the Azerbaijani President and Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev said in a tweet on October 17 that “SCUD Ballistic Missile attack and indiscriminate killing of civilians by Armenia’s Nikol Pashinyan in Ganja is the same tactic and missile system used by Saddam Hussein against civilians”.
In his address to the nation, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev described the missile attack as another “war crime”, saying that “we give their answer on the battlefield. We take the revenge of our martyrs and innocent people on the battlefield and will take.”
Aliyev also announced the liberation of seven villages of Fuzuli district and the city of Fuzuli from the Armenian occupation.
The renewed clashes between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces broke out on September 27 with Armenia’s troops shelling heavily the military and civilian positions of Azerbaijan. The attack prompted immediate counter-attack measures by the Azerbaijani army. Currently, military operations are being conducted in the territory of Azerbaijan, marking the fighting most intense between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces since a ceasefire that was reached in 1994.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-old conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenia. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. One million ethnic Azerbaijanis were forcibly displaced from these areas and 30,000 were killed.
Although the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of the occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands and the return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis to their ancestral lands, Armenia has failed to comply with all four legally binding documents.