Seven detained in overnight rally, and Azerbaijani general buried in Baku
Seven people have been detained by police after a rally over the deadly border clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while an Azerbaijani general killed in the fighting was laid to rest in Baku on Wednesday.
“A criminal case was launched against the detainees under the articles of 'mass riots' and 'resistance or use of force against a government official' and an investigation is under way,” the statement of the Interior Ministry read.
Azerbaijan said it had lost eleven servicemen, including a high-ranking major general. One civilian was also killed in the shootings that started on Sunday and lasted for three days in the direction of Tovuz on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
General Polad Hashimov and colonel Ilgar Mirzayev were buried in the 2nd Alley of Honors on Wednesday. Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov participated in the funeral, and President Ilham Aliyev called the general's mother to pay his condolences.
Armenia said four of its troops were killed, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Thousands of Baku residents took to the streets of the capital Tuesday night to demand war after the skirmishes in Tovuz. Most of them marched to the Alley of Martyrs and gathered in front of the parliament building. The main chants were “Karabakh”, “We are not leaving without Karabakh”, “Karabakh is ours”, and “Give us gun, let the war happen”.
Later at night, a group of people entered the parliament, smashing the building's windows, journalists at the scene confirmed.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that some individuals had deliberately disobeyed the authorities by committing illegal acts against law enforcement officers. Seven police officers were injured, and two service cars were overturned and damaged, the statement added.
“A rally in support of the army and war against Armenia turned into a protest,” social media phenomenon Cavid Aga, who was commenting on the incident live on Twitter, said in one of his tweets on Tuesday.
Riot police was reportedly dispatched to scene to quell the rally. Many inside the building were beaten, and water cannons and rubber bullets were used to disperse the protesters in central Baku.
Some public figures called the entering of protesters into the parliament building as a provocation.
“Overturning of a police car and entering the parliament building can be both a provocation and a mistake of the people. In each case, it was not right,” Azer Gasimli, former opposition ReAl party board member, told Meydan TV.
People flocked to the square en masse, not one by one, according to reporters on the scene. Gasimli added that the large crowd might be one of the reasons why it was very risky to manage the situation the last night.
“The government was well aware that people were dissatisfied in relation to the Karabakh problem and the killed officers in Tovuz,” Gasimli said. He added that the authorities did not interfere in advance as “people were very aggressive because of the months long quarantine, and of course the incident was very sensitive.”
“The opposition is with the army and the state. All the potential of the state must be mobilized for the victory,” the opposition Azerbaijani Popular Front Party leader Ali Karimli said in a talk with Meydan TV.
The current skirmishes appear to mark the most serious spike in hostilities since 2016, when scores were killed in four days of fighting. It is the first time a high-ranking general was killed in the skirmishes since the war ended early 1990s.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan on Monday of provoking the clashes and warned that it would “bear responsibility for the unpredictable consequences.” Azerbaijani President Ilhan Aliyev denounced what he described as “another provocation by Armenia” and vowed to protect Azerbaijan’s national territory.
While Turkey, Azerbaijan´s ally in the region, extended staunch support to Baku, OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, international mediation body established in 1992 under the auspices of Russia to negotiate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, condemned the skirmishes. Kremlin expressed its concern, urging to put an end to the fighting between the sides.
Azerbaijan and Armenian have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. International efforts to solve the conflict have stalled.
On 6 July, in an interview with local journalists, Aliyev called the international mediators efforts to settle the conflict “meaningless” saying Baku could resort to violence at any time.
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