Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military record. But the government said on Saturday that 14 civilians were killed in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, in a nighttime missile attack by Armenia.
Officials say more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents have fled their homes, although martial law currently in force prevents men of military age from leaving the territory. Among those who have remained are women who want to be close to their husbands, sons and fathers sent to the front lines. The coronavirus is way down on people’s list of concerns, even as international aid organizations warn cramped bomb shelters spread the infection.
Alyona Shakhramanyan, 33, and her neighbors on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Shusha, the hilltop town, moved into a section of their dirt-packed basement three weeks ago. They fashioned a door with a sheet of corrugated plastic and cardboard taped to the openings in the concrete walls. One of the women is sick – a cold, they say, which she caught from the draft.
Ms. Shakhramanyan’s brother, who like her husband is at the front, did not answer his phone. When she went out to do the laundry the night before, she was startled by the hum of a drone. Rocket artillery struck the nearby Cathedral of the Holy Savior twice earlier this month, and the cobblestones outside were still stained with the blood of a seriously injured Russian journalist in the second strike.
“Nobody is helping us here,” Ms. Shakhramanyan said. “We are alone.”
At the Stepanakert military cemetery, the resting place of fighters who died in the 1990s, the authorities removed a retaining wall and dug into a hill to make room for new victims. Amid the wreaths of artificial flowers and simple graves on the freshly leveled rocky earth, a man whose brother had left stretched out his arms in pain.
“These are fees – our guys,” he cried, his voice fading. “What is there to say?”