Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 25
By Anakhanum Khidayatova - Trend:
Ukrainian pilot Leonid Kravets, who witnessed the events in Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, has spoken about the tragedy that took place 24 years ago.
"At that time, I was flying to the Nagorno-Karabakh region every day, taking civilians from the zone of armed clashes," Kravets said Feb. 25 at a press conference in Baku.
On Feb. 25-26, 1992, the Armenian military, together with the 366th infantry regiment of Soviet troops stationed in Khankendi, committed genocide against the population of the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly.
Among those 613 killed in the massacre, there were 63 children, 106 women and 70 old people. Eight families were totally exterminated, 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both. A total of 487 civilians became disabled as a result of the onslaught. Some 1,275 innocent residents were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 people still remains unknown. The event became the largest massacre in the course of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
"On Feb. 27, we were flying over Khojaly town from Ganja city and we didn't know the town was being stormed," Kravets said. "From above, we saw some colorful field. Having descended a bit, we realized that the field was strewn with the bodies of civilians. There still were people alive whom the Armenians were killing off."
"Armed men began to shoot at our helicopter," he added. "We returned to Ganja. That time, nobody in Azerbaijan knew about this tragedy yet. We informed the local authorities. It was ordered to send journalists to the scene and take video footages."
Kravets went on to say that if an international trial takes place on Khojaly, he is ready to be a witness.
"I saw everything myself, there are photos and videos," he added.
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