At least 20 killed in Nagorno-Karabakh fuel depot blast as thousands flee

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By Webdesk

Armenia says at least 13,350 ethnic Armenians from the breakaway region entered the country.

At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in a fuel depot explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh amid an exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region.

The region’s health department said 13 bodies were found and seven people had died of their wounds after the blast in the regional capital of Stepanakert – called Khankendi by Azerbaijan – late on Monday.

They also said 290 people had been hospitalised and “dozens of patients remain in critical condition”.

The announcement came amid people fleeing the region, with Armenia saying that 13,350 “forcibly displaced persons” entered the country. In a statement, the government also said it would provide accommodation for all those in need.

On the diplomatic front, national security advisers from Azerbaijan, Armenia, France, Germany and the European Union special representative for the region are scheduled to meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

Simon Mordue, chief diplomatic adviser to European Council President Charles Michel, will chair the talks, the latter’s spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

“This is to take stock of the current situation and prepare for a possible meeting of leaders,” said Ecaterina Casinege.


Azerbaijan’s military attacked Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, announcing 24 hours later to have won control over the enclave.

Azerbaijani authorities promised to respect the rights and security of Armenians living in the region. But the news of their reintegration into Azerbaijan was met with panic and chaos among Karabakh’s ethnic Armenians who fear that the long history of hatred and violence between the two would make any form of co-habitation impossible.

On the road heading to Armenia, more and more residents from the region appeared to be trying to get out.

At the refugee centre in Goris, Valentina Asryan, a 54-year-old from the village of Vank who fled with her grandchildren, said her brother-in-law was killed and several other people were injured by Azerbaijani fire.

A long dispute

Nagorno-Karabakh has been contested for more than three decades, with Baku and Yerevan vying for its control.

The territory is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is heavily populated by ethnic Armenians.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh declared their independence with the goal of reuniting with Armenia. That triggered a bloody war in the 1990s that ended with Armenia taking control of the enclave and several districts around it.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced due to the conflict.

A second war erupted in 2020 with Azerbaijan retaking control of the surrounding territories.

Russia, an ally of Armenia, brokered the ceasefire and placed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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