The human cost of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Civilians on both sides have been caught in the deadliest fighting in the South Caucasus region for more than 25 years.

Left: A woman sits in the ruins of her house after shelling by Armenian's artillery during fighting over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Terter, Azerbaijan. Right: A man stands in a street damaged by shelling of Azerbaijan's artillery in Stepanakert, a main city in Nagorno-Karabakh [AP Photo]
  • Hundreds killed, tens of thousands displaced
  • Dozens of civilians dead on both sides
  • Armenia says more than 400 soldiers killed, most of whom were about 20 years old
  • Azerbaijan does not announce military death toll
  • Actual tolls believed to be higher

On September 27, clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, killing hundreds, injuring hundreds more and displacing thousands.

The disputed territory, home to about 150,000 people, is an ethnic Armenian enclave and is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan by all countries, including Armenia.

But the people of Nagorno-Karabakh – an overwhelming majority of whom are ethnic Armenians, want to govern themselves or to join Armenia, as they once voted to do.

The region broke from Azerbaijan’s control in a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

A fragile ceasefire, brokered by Russia, went into effect on Saturday but was almost immediately broken, with both Armenian and Azerbaijan accusing each other of fresh attacks.

Azerbaijan said on Sunday at least nine people were killed from a long-range missile attack on an apartment building in its second city of Ganja, while Armenia alleged Azeri forces shelled the main city of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the town of Hadrut.

Civilians on both sides have been caught in the deadliest fighting in the South Caucasus region for more than 25 years, with clashes involving artillery, tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and fighter planes.

Hundreds of soldiers have also been killed, presumably on both sides. While Armenian officials announce military death tolls, Azerbaijan does not.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify Armenian and Azeri assertions about the number of fatalities or injured, but it is widely acknowledged that the real death tolls from the crisis are believed to be much higher than what has so far been reported.

Death toll in Nagorno-Karabakh

According to the Armenia-backed Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman, from September 27 until October 9, 20 civilians had been killed by Azeri forces.

This includes 12 men and eight women. At least 101 other civilians have been wounded.

The report said large-scale damage has also been caused to civilian buildings, as well as to infrastructure. Some 70,000 people have been displaced in the latest escalation, officials say.

In total, some 5,800 private properties have been destroyed, in addition to 520 private vehicles. Damage has been caused to 960 pieces of civilian infrastructure, public and industrial objects.

Artak Beglaryan, the human rights ombudsman in Nagorno-Karabakh, said the day the ceasefire went into effect, Azeri forces in the town of Hadrut killed at least four civilians: Misha Movsisyan, his mother Anahit Movsisyan, Nver Grigoryan and Artyom Mirzovan.

Another 75-year-old civilian was killed in the town of Martini, bringing the death toll up to 25 on Monday.

According to the Armenian website Civil Net, which collates research-based articles, at least 429 ethnic Armenian soldiers have been killed in the conflict so far. Most who died were young, about 20 years old.

“When they released their names, they also released their birth dates,” Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith said. “Almost all of them born in 2001 and 2002.

“When you see those figures you see the pressure the leaders on both sides are under to make sure they are not the ones to be seen to be giving way to the other side,” he added.

Azerbaijan death toll

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of attacking large cities overnight in violation of the ceasefire brokered by Russia that seeks to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region [Aziz Karimov/AP]

On Sunday, the Azeri Prosecutor General’s Office said 41 civilians had been killed so far as the number of injured people rose to 205.


The attacks from Armenia have destroyed 1,165 houses, 57 buildings and 146 public buildings, the statement added.

As in Nagorno-Karabakh, the clashes have not spared anyone.

Images of wounded Azeri children have circulated on social media, and on Monday, Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, currently reporting from Azerbaijan, shared a photo of a funeral.

A couple, named as Anar and Nurchin, died together under the rubble after an attack allegedly by Armenian forces in Ganja.

Source: Al Jazeera