Symbolic Armenian Church Shelled in Clashes with Azerbaijan

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Dome and interior of Ghazanchetsots (Holy Savior) Cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh suffer damage.

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of shelling a historic cathedral in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where nearly two weeks of heavy fighting has killed hundreds of people.

The Holy Savior Cathedral, also known as the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, had its dome pierced by a shell that also damaged the interior.

Media reports said some children were inside the cathedral in the town of Shusha at the time of the shelling, and although they were not wounded, they suffered from stress after the attack.

Hours later, the cathedral came under more shelling that wounded two Russian journalists, one of whom was hospitalized in grave condition, according to Armenian officials.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry denounced the shelling as a “monstrous crime and a challenge to the civilized humankind,” warning Azerbaijan that targeting religious sites amounts to a war crime.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry denied attacking the cathedral, saying its army “doesn’t target historical, cultural and, especially, religious buildings and monuments.”

A priest at the cathedral, who identified himself only as Father Andreas, expressed anguish over the attack.

“I feel the pain that the walls of our beautiful cathedral are destroyed,” he said. “I feel the pain that today the world does not react to what’s happening here and that our boys are dying defending our Motherland.”

Built in 1888, the cathedral suffered significant damage during ethnic violence in 1920. It was restored after fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the 1990s and is the Armenian Apostolic Church’s diocesan headquarters in Nagorno-Karabakh, which it calls the Republic …

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