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Khojaly victims commemorated on 24th anniversary.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- The mass killing of Azerbaijani citizens by Armenians in the Azerbaijani town of khojaly in 1992 was remembered on its 24th anniversary across Azerbaijan on Friday.

The Khojaly massacre, considered one of the most tragic incidents in Azerbaijan's modern history, took place on Feb. 25-26, 1992, when Armenian armed forces -- one of whose commanders was incumbent Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, along with Russia's 366th Motor Rifle Regiment -- completely destroyed the city of Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Every year Azerbaijanis and Turks pay tribute to the civilian victims of the massacre. This year, on Friday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, many government officials and hundreds of Azerbaijanis came together at the "Ana Feryady" monument in Baku, which is dedicated to the victims, and commemorated those who were killed by the Armenian army.

The mass killing was part of the Nagorno-Karabakh war that erupted in the late 1980s between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the South Caucasus. About 2,500 civilians, the majority of whom were women, children and the elderly, were bombarded for a prolonged period of time before military forces seized Khojaly.

Residents of the city, which was largely burned down, fled to the town of Agdam via the only path left open to them by the occupying powers, but after a short while it was reported that this route was blocked, and those trying to flee were ambushed.

A total of 613 Azerbaijanis, including 106 women and 63 children, were killed by Armenian and Russian forces, in addition to the earlier attacks in Khojaly. Armenian forces occupying the city captured 1,275 people and 150 were reported as missing.

Khojaly massacre eyewitness: We want nothing but peace

Zahid Jabbarov, a 56-year-old eyewitness of the 1992 Khojaly massacre, told the private Cihan news agency in an exclusive interview that even though he witnessed Armenian soldiers killing his relatives and many others, he still wishes the problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia be resolved through peaceful means.

"They [Armenian soldiers] captured civilians and then killed many of them. They were directly shooting the injured ones. Dozens of children and women were taken to Esgeran city. My cousin was among those killed. My father was seriously injured, while my sister lost her feet. I saw people dying en masse," said Jabbarov, who was an Azerbaijani soldier taken prisoner by Armenian soldiers during the massacre.

This year, Azerbaijan commemorates the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre. The situation is yet to be resolved, and the region -- now populated almost exclusively by ethnic Armenians after the expulsion of the ethnic Azeri residents -- has declared independence with the support of Armenia but receives almost no international recognition. To this day, Baku and Yerevan maintain no diplomatic contact.

Another former Azerbaijani soldier, HE-seynay-a Guliyev, who was also an eyewitness of the massacre, said he saw Armenian soldiers "cold-bloodedly" torturing dozens of children to death while forcing their mothers to watch.

"They were killing pregnant women, taking their babies out and executing them by shooting them. Dozens of children were murdered in front of their mothers. They [the Armenian army] attacked us with Russian-made tanks, but we did not have even an armored car to fight back with," said Guliyev.

Khojaly, together with Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other adjacent Azerbaijani territories, is still occupied by the Armenian armed forces, despite four United Nations Security Council resolutions being passed in 1993 calling for the withdrawal of local Armenian troops from Azerbaijani land.

In spite of peace negotiations started by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, there have been no positive results so far. Nearly 1 million refugees from the occupied territories are spread across the country and live in poor conditions.

SANAN SHABANZADA / RAUF AHMADOV | BAKU [Cihan/Today's Zaman] Cihan CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Feb 26, 2016
Words:649
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