‘They’re killing old women now’: meet the third generation to ...


‘They’re killing old women now’: meet the third generation to see war

Nearly every cellar doubles as a bomb shelter. There’s no shortage of Blitz-style spirit in Nagorno-Karabakh

Colin Freeman

Named in honour of those who helped Nagorno-Karabakh win independence from Azerbaijan 30 years ago, Freedom Fighter Street no longer has homes fit for heroes.

A plaza of Soviet-style housing in the breakaway republic’s capital, Stepanakert, the street’s crumbling flats have barely had a facelift since communist times. Now, though, the four-storey blocs are in need of more than just a lick of paint after a missile crashed into them during shelling on Friday night. The missile – one of scores that have hit Stepanakert since war resumed again with Azerbaijan a week ago – killed an elderly woman living on the third floor and wounded dozens more. Yet the casualty count would probably have been far higher had most of the residents not already been sheltering in the flats’ basements, which double as bomb bunkers.

The residents have had plenty of practice in emergency drills: although the conflict with Azerbaijan officially “froze” after a ceasefire in 1994, it has simmered ever since, leaving Stepanakert’s 50,000 people in a state of constant readiness for war...

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