21 civilians were killed on Wednesday and more than 70 wounded when Armenian armed forces launched multiple missiles on Azerbaijan’s populous city of Barda, according to AFP and Reuters reports.
The originally reported death toll rose from 14 to 19 and then to 21. There were at least 10 people still missing at the time of reporting.
Azerbaijan said Russian-made Smerch heavy multiple rocket launcher was used to target the densely populated area of the Barda City which is away from the frontlines of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian-backed separatists, over which Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war in 1988-94, eventually declaring a ceasefire.
Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said Armenian forces, by violating a US-brokered ceasefire, fired Smerch missiles with cluster munitions “to inflict excessive casualties among civilians”. Armenia denied launching missiles but didn’t say if they were fired by the separatist forces.
“As a result of the rocket strike on crowded areas of the city of Barda, which used banned cluster munitions and was conducted on October 28, at around 13:00 [09:00 GMT], 21 civilians were killed and around 70 sustained injured,” the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office was quoted by RIA as saying in a statement.
The new attack comes after a missile strike on the same city killed 5 civilians including a toddler and wounded over a dozen.
It would be the deadliest reported attack on civilians since October 17 when Armenian armed forces launched a nightly Scud missile attack on a residential block in Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Ganja.
— Haris Alisic (@HarisAlisic) October 28, 2020
Armenians took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan in a 1990s war amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. Fighting erupted on 27 September 2020 and there have since been three attempts at ceasefire.
The area comprising of a region called Nagorno Karabakh of about 4,400 sq km (1,700 sq miles) and some surrounding areas of of about 8,004 sq km (3,090 sq miles) are internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but effectively controlled by Armenia after the 1990s war. The devastating war displaced an estimated one million people and killed about 30,000 in 1988-1994. So war is over these areas:
If you want to make sense of the war raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan, you can read the Azerbaijan & Armenia explainer: All you need to know [in layman’s terms].