The Focus on Karabakh editor Emil Sanamyan began preparing a chronology of the April 2016 war in Karabakh while it was ongoing and has since updated it regularly, as new details became available.
April 2, 2016, Saturday
Past Midnight – 01:15 – In a later press conference NKR President Bako Sahakyan revealed that he consulted with his top military and security officials after receiving first reports of Azerbaijani deployments around midnight. Initial assessment was that these did not signify a large-scale attack, but a smaller-scale hit-and-run action typical of the previous two years. The meeting was dismissed but Defense Army commander Gen. Levon Mnatsakanyan remained at work to watch the situation.
In a later interview, Mnatsakanyan confirmed that initial intelligence did not indicate a large-scale attack was imminent, but he nevertheless ordered the army’s special forces units to pre-position in Mardakert direction.
Overnight, various Armenian frontline posts were shelled with mortars, such shelling had been typical since mid-2015.
02:30 – At least three members of an Azerbaijani special forces team are killed during an attack on a military post 140 in Talish-Madagis area, in the northeastern corner of Nagorno Karabakh; their bodies remained at the Armenian post.
03:00-04:00 Sargsyan, then Aliyev fly from Washington after attending the international nuclear security summit there.
03:00 – After observing Azerbaijani artillery and other deployments, and increased intensity in mortar shelling, Armenian artillery units are ordered to leave their base areas and prepare for combat. According to Defense Army’s then operations chief Col. Viktor Arustamyan, these were still precautionary measures, and only by 05:00 it became clear that Azerbaijan was staging a large-scale attack to capture territory.
The Chronology can be accessed in full on Sanamyan’s personal blog.