The Armenian Ministry of Defense accused the Azerbaijani army of targeting the historic Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Ghazanchetsots Cathedral) in Shushi city which lies in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Defense, the Azerbaijani forces bombed the large cathedral church after launching several missiles towards the Karabakh region.
“What is the use of dialogue with those who bomb churches?” The official representative of the ministry, Artsron Hanfanisian, posted on Facebook, accompanied by pictures showing the damage caused by what appeared to be a missile falling on the dome of the cathedral.
10 injured, including 3 journalists, during a second #Azerbaijani “double tap” strike on a 19th century cathedral in #Shushi.— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) October 8, 2020
The strikes were undoubtedly intentional. Azerbaijan hit the exact same spot twice in the span of several hours. No military targets nearby pic.twitter.com/YRdKG1M7DY
The cathedral, which was built in the mid-nineteenth century, is considered one of the spiritual centers not only for Armenians from Karabakh, but for all Armenian people.
Video of the immediate attack aftermath showed smoke billowing from the church after the daytime shelling.
For its part, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense denied responsibility for the incident, asserting in a statement that “the information about the damage caused to the Church” has nothing to do with the hostilities carried out by the Azerbaijani army.
The statement said, “Unlike the Armenian forces, which destroyed in the bombing of the city of Ganja on 4 October civilian facilities and residential buildings, as well as the Imamzadeh complex, which is a religious architectural landmark, the Azerbaijani army does not target historical, cultural and especially religious buildings and monuments.”
Azerbaijan shelled Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, the symbol of Shushi, which had been restored and reconsecrated in the aftermath of the war in the 90s#StopAzerbaijaniAggression pic.twitter.com/QYZa7KfMGg— Armenian Unified Infocenter (@ArmenianUnified) October 8, 2020
Karabakh has witnessed since late last month a military escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the most violent in a quarter of a century.