Azerbaijan Drops Banned Cluster Bombs On Armenians Living In The City Of Stepanakert

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Azerbaijan Drops Banned Cluster Bombs On Armenians Living In The City Of Stepanakert

Photos: (Left) Unexploded rockets line the streets of Stepanakert Nagorno-Karabakh's capital on Monday, following heavy shelling by Azerbaijani forces. (Right) Unexploded BM-30 Smerch rocket by the Mingachevir Hydro Power Station in Azerbaijan on Monday. AP images.

It has been revealed by human rights observers that Azerbaijan has dropped illegal cluster bombs on Armenians in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh in Armenian.

According to the UK broadsheet newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, undetonated bomblets could be seen littering the streets of Stepanakert, the region's largest city with a population of around 50,000.

Cluster-bombs are large shells or other devices containing many smaller bombs that are spread out over a large area. Human rights group Humanity & Inclusion states that up to 97% of victims of cluster bombs are civilians. They also state the bombs often do not explode and therefore pose an ongoing threat to anyone entering the area:

"Cluster bombs kill, injure and maim people and cause serious psychological trauma. Up to 97% of recorded victims are civilians - in other words, almost all victims are civilians … Up to 40% of sub-munitions do not explode on impact: either they are too light or the ground is too soft, or a technical fault prevents them from exploding."

In many regions in the world, children are often killed by cluster bombs as they lay undiscovered and then are picked up when they are outside playing. Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan are signed up to the International Convention on Cluster Munitions, which in 2010 saw 109 countries sign up to ban the use of cluster bombs in warfare.

The use of the devices in the conflict indicates just how bad the situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia has now become. The Artsakh region lies within Azerbaijani territory however, the area is populated overwhelmingly by ethnic Armenians who claim that they are persecuted by the majority Azerbaijani Muslim population and by the Azerbaijani state.

Azerbaijan has overseen in recent years the mass destruction of ancient Armenian holy sites, including UNESCO world heritage sites, in what is claimed is a deliberate attempt to wipe out Armenian history and culture within their borders.

Since the conflict ignited at the end of September, there have been hundreds of casualties on both sides, but clear numbers on exactly how many combatants and civilians have been killed or wounded have not yet been confirmed. There is a distinct worry that the conflict could become more widespread with Armenian forces moving in to more forcefully defend the region or Azerbaijan attempting to remove all Armenian influence in the area completely. There is also the danger that Turkey could choose to enter on the side of the Azerbaijanis, the Turkish state is already suspected of sending proxy-forces to the region.

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Thinking Humanity: Azerbaijan Drops Banned Cluster Bombs On Armenians Living In The City Of Stepanakert
Azerbaijan Drops Banned Cluster Bombs On Armenians Living In The City Of Stepanakert
Azerbaijan has dropped illegal cluster bombs on Armenians in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh in Armenian.
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