A tragedy that occurs in the middle of an exodus. At least 68 people died in Monday's explosion at a fuel depot in Nagorno-Karabakh, separatists in the predominantly Armenian region where Azerbaijan carried out a lightning offensive last week said Tuesday.
"Sixty-eight dead are confirmed," the separatist entity said, adding that 290 people were wounded and 105 missing. Its previous assessment on Monday was at least twenty dead and 280 wounded.
More than 28,000 refugees
Thousands of Nagorno-Karabakh residents are seeking to flee their region to Armenia, where more than 28,000 have already sought refuge, a week after the Azerbaijani offensive in this breakaway Caucasus region. According to the Armenian authorities, some 28,120 refugees have so far arrived in Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan on Sunday opened the only road leading from the region to Armenia, four days after the separatists surrendered and a ceasefire agreement that puts Nagorno-Karabakh under Baku's control. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Azerbaijan to respect its commitments to protect civilians in the province and allow access for humanitarian aid.
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"The Secretary of State spoke again with President Aliyev today and stressed the urgency of ending hostilities, ensuring the unconditional protection and freedom of movement of civilians, and ensuring unhindered humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
The France, for its part, called for "international diplomatic action" in the face of "Russia's abandonment of Armenia." Paris said the "massive" exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh is taking place "under the complicit eye of Russia," which in 2020 deployed a peacekeeping force in the breakaway region.