Call for probe into origin of shelling that injured reporters in Nagorno-Karabakh

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to shed all possible light on the origin of the bombardment that injured four journalists covering the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh yesterday, and to ensure that the injured can be evacuated safely.

The four journalists were among a group of reporters that was shelled in the town of Martuni on the fifth day of the violent clashes that have broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

A reporter for the French daily Le Monde and a French photographer accompanying him had to be hospitalized for urgent treatment to their injuries. Armenia TV cameraman Aram Grigoryan and a reporter for the Armenian news agency, Sevak Vardumyan, were also injured.

Several other journalists, including an Agence France-Presse crew and a deputy editor-in-chief sent by the independent Russian TV channel Dozhd, narrowly escaped being hit by the shelling. All of the journalists and their vehicles were clearly identified and bore the word “Press.” They were accompanying local authorities in order to interview residents and see the damage from previous bombardments.

“This bombardment was unjustifiable because civilians, and journalists in particular, are not military targets,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to conduct an investigation to determine the origin of the shelling and to do everything necessary to enable the injured journalists to be evacuated in a completely safe manner.”

French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday that he was sending a medical plane to repatriate the injured French journalists.

A region with an ethnic Armenian majority, Nagorno-Karabakh triggered a war in the early 1990s by seceding from Azerbaijan. Armenia is ranked 61st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, while Azerbaijan is ranked 168th.