Armenian missile strike levelled a row of homes in Azerbaijan's second city of Ganja, killing and badly injuring people in their sleep in a sharp escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Ganja ballistic missile attacks comprise four separate ballistic missile attacks on the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan in October 2020, during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.
The first attack took place on 4 October, killing one civilian and wounding over 30; it was one of the first serious attacks on civilians in the conflict outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The second attack occurred on 8 October; no casualties were reported. The third attack happened on 11 October. According to Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry, at least seven people died and 33 were injured, including children. The attack was one of the first major violations of the humanitarian ceasefire, signed a day earlier, to attempt to halt the conflict. The fourth attack occurred on 17 October. According to initial reports, fifteen civilians were killed and fifty-five injured in the attack. In addition to the loss of human life, infrastructure was also destroyed, including apartment blocks and other buildings, and vehicles.
Azerbaijan accused Armenia of the attacks, but Armenia denied any responsibility. Human Rights Watch reported that the Armenian forces were responsible for all of the attacks. The Azerbaijani government described the third attack as "an act of genocide" and retaliated with a missile strike on missile systems in the Armenian-occupied Kalbajar District.
Ganja was first hit by a missile on 4 October. Azerbaijan accused Armenia of the attack, which it denied. Armenia denied targeting residential areas, but rather military targets, especially Ganja International Airport. According to Human Rights Watch, two residential buildings, one of them a multi-family structure, were destroyed and about 30 houses were damaged on Ali Nizami Street. As a result of the attack, one civilian was killed, while 30 were injured.
Ganja was again hit on 8 October. No civilian casualties were reported, but a number of residential buildings and a school were damaged.
A day after the ceasefire signed on 10 October, at 02:00 local time the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence stated that Armenian armed forces in Berd, Armenia, had fired upon Ganja with a Scud missile; the missile hit an apartment building, completely destroying it. Search and rescue teams shortly afterwards arrived at the scene. During the attack, significant infrastructure in the city was completely destroyed, including 31 apartment buildings, and structures and vehicles in the vicinity of the explosion were seriously damaged. The attack affected 205 people in a total of 95 apartments; The attack killed ten people, and 40 were injured, with women and children among the victims. Armenia denied the responsibility of the Armenian forces for the attack, calling it an "absolute lie."
Human Rights Watch confirmed that Armenian forces had fired a Scud-B ballistic missile that detonated in a residential neighbourhood, killing 10 civilians and wounding 34 others. It observed a massive crater and more than 20 damaged or destroyed buildings in the area, behind a row of multi-story commercial buildings.
On 17 October, at approximately 01:00 local time, Azerbaijani authorities stated that Armenian forces had fired Scud missiles at Ganja; journalists reported three powerful explosions in the city. According to an RIA Novosti correspondent, the missiles struck densely populated residential areas of the city, levelling several rows of residential and other buildings, the first being less than two kilometres (1.2mi) away from the city hall and the second in Kapaz District in the east of the city. Vasily Polonsky, a "Dozhd" correspondent, stated that there were no military bases and important targets near the places struck by the missiles. According to local authorities, approximately 20 houses were destroyed, trapping many civilians under the rubble. Search and rescue teams of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations and servicemen of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense arrived at the scene and called in sniffer dogs to rescue the wounded and recover the dead; Armenia denied responsibility for the attack.
As a result of the attack, 15 civilians were killed, including a 13-year-old Russian citizen, and 55 were injured.
Human Rights Watch confirmed that Armenian forces had used Scud-B ballistic missiles on two residential neighbourhoods in Ganja at about 1 a.m., killing 21 civilians, including five who had died of their wounds after the attack. They observed 10 houses destroyed and over 20 damaged at the site. Almost simultaneously with the attack, a second Scud-B missile hit another neighbourhood in the city. The attack destroyed or left uninhabitable 15 family homes and damaged 40 to 50 others. Human Rights Watch observed a large crater and dozens of damaged or destroyed residential buildings and munition remnants scattered at the blast site.