Several people were injured, including foreign journalists, in two shelling attacks on a cathedral in the town of Shusha, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, on October 8, according to agency reports and the Armenian government.
Agence France-Presse and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, among other news outlets, reported that the Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral, an iconic Armenian Apostolic church in the town, was hit by a second rocket as journalists were inside to report on the earlier attack. That second strike injured several people, including three journalists, one of whom was seriously wounded and was undergoing surgery, the Armenian government said. Three of the victims were Russian, the government added.
Russian reports said military correspondent Yuri Kotenok was severely injured.
The Government of Armenia pinned blame for the attacks on Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense denied any involvement, saying Azerbaijan does not target religious and cultural sites, and in turn accused Armenia of striking a religious complex on October 4.
The human-rights ombudsman for the region’s semi-autonomous government said it was “undeniable” that Azerbaijan had targeted the church, knowing there were journalists inside, and said the attacks constituted “crimes against war and humanity.”
Anna Naghdalyan, spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), tweeted, “We remind [Azerbaijan’i] military-political authorities that targeting religious worship sites and cultural monuments is [a warcrime] as enshrined in [international] humanitarian law, the responsibility for which has no statute of limitations.” The MFA also accused Azerbaijan of “targeting more than 100 civilian settlements” in the region since September 27. Credit: RFE/RL via Storyful