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THE KHOJALU CASE: A SPECIAL DOSSIER

by Hayk Demoyan, Levon Melik-Shakhnazaryan
translated by Ruzanna Amiraghyan


Contents | 1. Foreword | 2. Sources | 3. The political situation in Azerbaijan in 1991-1992
4. Reasons for the assault of Khojalu | 5. The Khojalu offensive
6. About the participation of CIS 366-th regiment | 7. Development of the events after February 26
8. The causes of casualtes among civilians in Khojalu | 9. The total number of casualties
10. Conclusions | 11. Summary | 12. Appendix


8. THE CAUSES OF CASUALTIES AMONG CIVILIANS IN KHOJALU

The armed soldiers of the Khojalu defense forces were running away from the village together with the civilian population. On the approaches to the Armenian village of Nakhijevanik they run on Armenian villagers’ self-defense positions. As a result of the fighting the first Armenian post was destroyed (2 men were killed, 10 were wounded). Some Azerbaijani soldiers also were among casualties as the result of this clash.

Above mentioned S. Abbasov, who was among defenders of Khojalu, confessed afterwards, that after destruction of the Armenian post near Nakhijevanik village "we managed to have a narrow escape with the help from Aghdam".58 Aghdam forces "arrived in time", and Khojalu civilians "made their way", as was already marked, right on the fields, where the corpses were found later. It is clear that no Armenian military unit could be stationed in the territory under control of large Azerbaijani armed forces.

The number of efficient military groups of the Armenians were limited at that time, and practically all of them were involved the Khojalu operation. It should be mentioned that in the beginning of 1992 the military clashes between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces only began, and both sides were at the initial stage of formation of armed forces.

As it was mentioned, the operation on suppression of fire emplacements in and around Khojalu and de-blockading of the only airport began at 23:00 p. m. with artillery bombardment. At 23:30 infantry moved towards Khojalu but no serious resistance Armenian forces met in the city. The majority of Khojalu civilians together with the Azerbaijani soldiers left the village in panic. At 01:30 Armenians intercepted an Azerbaijani radiogram, in which remaining Azerbaijani forces reported to Shushi and Aghdam headquarters about their decision to follow fleeing civilians towards Aghdam direction.

However one-two small groups of Azeris were blocked by the Armenians and continued their resistance till 4 o'clock in the morning. Except them no Azerbaijanis remained in Khojalu at that moment. In a telephone conversation Artur Mkrtchyan, President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with the Azerbaijani colleague said that "They (civilian population of Khojalu - H. D., L. M.-Sh.,) left Khojalu before it was occupied by Armenian forces". The distance to the place, where afterwards the numerous corpses of civilians were found is approximately 11-12 km by highway and 3-4 km less by a direct route.

Taking into account, that the inhabitants went in darkness and on off-road, and that among them there were women, elderly and children, it is possible to assume, that they passed this distance within 5-6 hours. It means that Khojalu civilians and retreating soldiers approached to the vanguard posts near Aghdam not later than at five o'clock in the morning. And it is not occasional that could be taken for attacking Armenians. It is very possible since armed forces positioned near Aghdam moved towards Armenian village of Nakhijevanik and their behavior in a night time incursion probably was very nervous. Chingiz Mustafaev rightly pointed out that armed formations of Aghdam could take the crowd of refugees for attacking Armenians (it is noteworthy that it was occurring in February in a total darkness -. H. D. L. M.-Sh.) and, to open heavy fire from machine guns against them. Then, to hide the traces of their fatal mistakes they mutilated and destroyed corpses on the next day trying to blame on Armenians for the crime.

Difficult to say how this assumption of the Azerbaijani journalist corresponds with the reality; however, the fact is that Khojalu civilians were killed on the territory fully controlled by the Azerbaijani armed forces.


58 Megapolis-Express, Moscow, No. 17, 1992.

 

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