Scores killed in fuel depot explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh

  • 26 September, 17:49

At least 20 people have been killed and around 300 injured in a strong blast at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh region as thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing to Armenia after the separatist region’s surrender to Azerbaijan last week.

Local Armenian authorities said that 290 people have been hospitalized, many of them in “critical condition” after the powerful explosion near the regional capital Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) on September 25.

Local hospitals have called for an airlift to Armenia. Azerbaijan announced the opening of airspace in Stepanakert to facilitate the airlift. Apart from the killed and the wounded, some were listed as missing.

The blast comes amid an influx of thousands of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh following a 24-hour blitz on September 19 to disarm the separatist Armenian military units in the region. Baku said it had launched an “anti-terror” operation to “restore the constitutional order”. Azerbaijan’s lightning victory forced the region’s separatist leaders to agree to peace talks with officials from Baku over the region’s “reintegration” into Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan pledged to protect the rights and safety of the region’s Armenian population. Despite this, Armenians started fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia out of fear of persecution. Armenian authorities said 125,000 Armenian residents have fled to Armenia as of September 26. Earlier, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the Armenian population would not be under direct threat from Azerbaijan should they choose to stay in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan regained control over most parts of Nagorno-Karabakh in the war in 2020 after around thirty years of separatist rule. Baku consolidated its full control over the region after the hostilities last week.

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