Eyewitness Accounts of Devastating Karabakh Bombing

The BBC has obtained harrowing eyewitness accounts of a bombing incident in a remote village in Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in the tragic deaths of three children and two elderly people. Azerbaijan maintains that it only targeted “legitimate military targets,” but survivors recount an indiscriminate attack. This incident took place in Sarnaghbuyr, a village in the Askeran region of Nagorno-Karabakh, far from any significant military targets. The devastating impact of this attack is evident as we delve into the heartbreaking stories of those affected.

Zarine Ghazaryan, who was in the nearby town of Askeran when the bombing started, experienced the unimaginable loss of two young sons and another son who was severely injured. Zarine had been struggling to find baby formula due to the de facto blockade imposed on the region, causing shortages of essential supplies like food, fuel, and heating. As she tried to make her way back home upon hearing the explosions, she was met with heavy incoming fire, preventing her from reaching safety. By the time she arrived at the hospital in the territory’s main city of Stepanakert, she received the devastating news that two of her sons, Mikayel (eight years old) and Nver (ten years old), had been killed by the bombs. Their bodies were in a horrific state, leaving Zarine pleading for their father’s presence.

Arman, a fifteen-year-old boy who was with the children during the attack, suffered wounds on his back, shoulders, and hands. He recalls the indiscriminate bombing that resulted in people losing their lives or sustaining severe injuries. Arman describes the terror of witnessing heads being blown off and three shells exploding nearby. He attempted to protect the children by huddling them together under some trees, aiming to find a safer location away from the relentless bombardment. Unfortunately, the bombs struck precisely where they sought shelter.

Garik Alexanyan, the mayor of the village, experienced unimaginable loss as well, with his son, father, and mother-in-law losing their lives. The injuries sustained by his son were too gruesome to be described. The local authorities reported that three more individuals lost their lives, with an additional fifteen villagers sustaining injuries. The attack forced many residents to abandon their homes, joining the thousands of displaced ethnic Armenians from the region. While some sought refuge in Stepanakert or were evacuated by Russian peacekeepers to a nearby airport, many others found themselves stranded on the airstrip, hoping for evacuation to Armenia.

Zarine, hoping to bring her sons’ bodies to Armenia for burial, faces further obstacles in the form of limited transportation options. The planes leaving Karabakh prioritize the evacuation of the wounded, and the long queue of vehicles on the roads extends for kilometers. This dire situation leaves Zarine and her family anxiously waiting for an opportunity to bid their final goodbyes to their loved ones.

It is essential to note that the BBC has not independently verified the specifics of this attack. However, Ambassador Elchin Amirbekov, a special envoy of Azerbaijan’s president, assures the BBC that the Azerbaijani army only aimed to neutralize legitimate military targets. He acknowledges the occurrence of collateral damage but emphasizes their regret over any loss of civilian lives.

The devastating impact of this indiscriminate bombing is unquestionable. It highlights the urgent need for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack, prioritizing accountability and justice for the innocent lives lost. The international community must stand together to ensure the protection of civilians during times of conflict and work towards sustainable peace in the region.