On July 5, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that a 52-year-old woman and her 2-year-old granddaughter died when their house was hit with Armenian mortar fire late on July 4. Another woman was injured in the incident in the village of Alxanli, located about a kilometer from the Line of Contact in the southeast of Karabakh.
The Armenian military expressed “pain and regret” over the deaths, but added that the Armenian forces were responding to Azerbaijani rocket fire launched from near the residential area in Alxanli. The Armenian military also published video of Azerbaijani rocket fire from inside Alxanli and an audio intercept that appeared to confirm that the Armenian mortar fire targeted Azerbaijani military in the area.
Since February, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have resumed intermittent exchanges of mortar fire aimed at each others’ military positions, but the July 4 incident is the first since April 2016 war to involve civilian deaths.
Early on April 2, 2016, three elderly Armenian civilians were executed and their bodies mutilated when their house on the outskirts of Talish was raided by Azerbaijani special forces. Separately, an Armenian schoolboy was killed and two others wounded when they were hit by missile fire on their way to school in Martuni district. Additionally, some half a dozen Azerbaijani civilians were killed by subsequent Armenian artillery fire at Azerbaijani military positions in Terter and Agdam districts.
In an earlier escalation in September 2015 – that one not in Karabakh but on Armenia’s northeastern border in Tavush – three Armenian women, two of them elderly, were killed when their villages were hit by Azerbaijani mortar fire.