STEPANAKERT — Nagorno-Karabakh towns again came under rocket fire on Thursday as heavy fighting continued in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone for a twelfth day.
The shelling by Azerbaijani forces of the Karabakh capital Stepanakert resumed late on Wednesday and continued periodically until the next morning. The city’s remaining residents mostly hiding in bomb shelters could hear powerful explosions and the sound of air raid sirens during the night.
One local man examined afterwards the damage to his home caused by recent day’s artillery fire. “No one is staying home,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “So they shouldn’t try in vain to kill us.”
“My sons are on the frontline,” he added. “They say that everything will be all right.”
Another Stepanakert resident said he is still not planning to take refuge in Armenia. “Either we should die or live on our land,” said the middle-aged man.
The Azerbaijani army also shelled the nearby town of Shushi and seriously damaged its famous Armenian cathedral in the afternoon. Photographs taken at the scene and posted on social media showed a gaping hole on the Ghazanchetsots church’s roof and debris scattered inside it.
Built circa 1868-1887, the cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Artsakh of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Standing 35 meters high, it is a landmark of Sushi and Artsakh.
President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan reacted to the Azeri bombing of the Cathedral calling the attack “vandalism.”
“The Holy Ghazanchetsots Church of Shushi also became a target for the terrorists. This manifestation of vandalism is against the laws of humanity and God. We will rebuild it,” the president said.
A number of foreign reporters were injured as a result of the strikes targeting the Cathedral.
One of the wounded is Russian journalist Yuri Petrovich who is in critical condition and the doctors are now struggling to save his life.