At least 20 people were killed and nearly 300 others hospitalized Monday as an explosion tore through a fuel depot for refugees in the South Caucasus territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. It’s not clear what caused the blast, which added to the misery of tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing the disputed territory one week after it was seized by Azerbaijan. Armenian officials report nearly 14,000 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 120,000 residents had fled to Armenia as of Tuesday morning. Thousands remain without food, shelter and clean sources of drinking water.
Alpine Movsyan: “We don’t know what happens to us next. We don’t know what the government has in store for us. There is not a single chance to go back. If there were chances, we would not leave in the first place. It is very dangerous there.”
On Monday, representatives of Karabakh Armenians met with Azerbaijani officials for a second round of peace talks. No details about the meeting were made public. In Baku, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev pledged his government would ensure the security of everyone in Nagorno-Karabakh, countering Armenia’s claims that ethnic cleansing is underway.
President Ilham Aliyev: “The people living in the Karabakh region are Azerbaijan citizens regardless of their nationality. Their safety, security, well-being will be ensured by the state of Azerbaijan.”
Diplomatic officials from Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the Belgian capital Brussels today to prepare for October 5 peace talks. The summit will include the leaders of France, Germany and the European Council.