Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military death toll. But the government said on Saturday that 14 civilians in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, were killed in an overnight missile attack in Armenia.
Officials say more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s people have fled their homes, despite the fact that current martial law prevents men of military age from leaving the area. Those left behind include women who want to be close to their husbands, sons and fathers who have been sent to the front. Coronavirus is low on the list of people’s worries, despite international aid agencies warning that cramped bomb shelters can spread infections.
33-year-old Alyona Shakhramanyan and her neighbors from the fifth floor of a residential building in Shusha, the mountain town, moved into part of their basement three weeks ago. They built a door out of a sheet of corrugated cardboard and glued cardboard over the openings in the concrete walls. One of the women is sick – a cold, they say, caught in the drafty air.
Ms. Shakhramanyan’s brother, who is at the helm like her husband, did not answer his phone. When she went outside to do laundry the day before, she was afraid of the hum of a drone. The rocket artillery hit the nearby Cathedral of the Holy Savior twice earlier this month, and the paving stones outside were still stained with the blood of a Russian journalist seriously injured in the second strike.
“Nobody is helping us here,” said Ms. Shakhramanyan. “We are alone.”
At the military cemetery in Stepanakert, the resting place of the fighters who died in the 1990s, the authorities removed a retaining wall and dug into a slope to make room for the new victims. In the midst of the artificial flower wreaths and simple grave sites on the freshly tiered rocky dirt, a man, whose brother had disappeared, spread his arms in grief.
“These are fresh – our boys,” he called out in a fading voice. “What is there to say?”