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Nagorno-Karabakh Fuel Depot Blast Kills 170

Nagorno-Karabakh Fuel Depot Blast Kills 170

Nagorno-Karabakh Fuel Depot Blast Kills 170

Nagorno-Karabakh Fuel Depot Blast Kills 170

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  • Explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh kills 170, higher than the initial estimate.
  • The remains were sent to Armenia for DNA identification.
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  • The cause of the explosion near Khankendi is unclear.

A significant and tragic incident occurred in Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday, resulting in a much higher death toll than initially reported.

The explosion at a fuel depot claimed the lives of at least 170 people, a stark increase from the earlier estimate of 68 casualties. Authorities are now planning to send remains found at the explosion site to Armenia for identification through DNA analysis.

The explosion took place near the main city of Khankendi, known as Stepanakert among Armenians, and the cause remains unclear. The region had witnessed an influx of ethnic Armenians desperately trying to leave following its surrender to Azerbaijan.

Rescue teams are actively searching the affected area, while hospitals grapple with the challenge of treating 290 injured individuals. Medical supplies have been in short supply due to an effective blockade imposed since December 2022. Some of the injured have been evacuated by Armenian helicopters.

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In the aftermath of the ceasefire agreement signed by Nagorno-Karabakh’s leaders with Azerbaijan the previous week, there has been a significant exodus of ethnic Armenians. Armenia reports that approximately 88,780 out of an estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the territory have already fled.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed concerns that the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh may ultimately leave.

“They’re full of anxiety, they’re scared, they’re frightened and they want answers,” UNHCR Armenia representative Kavita Belani said about the tens of thousands arriving in Armenia.

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Western governments have been applying pressure on Azerbaijan to permit international observers to enter Karabakh to monitor the treatment of the local population. However, as of now, access has not been granted by Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan has announced its intention to allow a team of UN experts to enter the territory in the coming days. The Azerbaijani government has expressed its aim to integrate the region’s population as “equal citizens” and has rejected Armenia’s allegations of ethnic cleansing.

Meanwhile, the separatist leader of Nagorno-Karabakh has declared that the breakaway republic and its institutions will no longer exist starting from the next year. Local forces in Karabakh agreed to disarm and disband following an intense conflict triggered by an Azerbaijani military offensive that began last Tuesday.

Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s military detained Levon Mnatsakanyan, a former commander of the ethnic-Armenian troops, at a border checkpoint on Friday, as reported by the Russian state news agency Tass.

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Ruben Vardanyan, a former head of the separatist government, had also been arrested on Wednesday while attempting to leave for Armenia.

It’s important to note that while the international community recognizes the region as part of Azerbaijan, Armenians gained control of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

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