Call to prayer: At least 135 Armenian soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan


At least 135 Armenian servicemen have been killed this week in the worst border clashes with Azerbaijan since a war in 2020, according to a new toll announced Friday by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. In Armenia, Christians believe that the only thing they can do is pray. 

“For now, the number of killed is 135. Unfortunately, this is not the final figure. There are also many injured,” Pashinyan told a government meeting.

This brings the death toll on both sides to more than 200.

On the Azerbaijani side, the toll to date is 71 soldiers killed, according to Baku, since the start of the clashes which broke out on Tuesday.

This is an unprecedented escalation since 2020 threatening to torpedo a fragile peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two rival countries of the Caucasus.

Russia, the traditional mediator in this region, had announced a truce on Tuesday morning, but it had been violated for two days, the two camps accusing each other of bombardments.

A ceasefire was however "respected" Thursday according to the European Union.

These clashes are the most intense since a war between the two countries in 2020 for control of the enclave of Nagorny Karabakh (also called Nagorno-Karabakh), which left more than 6.500 dead and led Yerevan to cede territories to Baku.

The events come as Moscow, which deployed a peacekeeping force to the region after the 2020 war, has its hands busy with the difficulties of its military offensive in Ukraine.

Before 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan had already clashed in the 1990s over Nagorno Karabakh, a conflict that left more than 30.000 dead.

The only thing the Church can do is “pray”

Evangelical Focus reports the testimony of the director of the Network for Peace and Reconciliation of the World Evangelical Alliance in Yerevan, Craig Simonian. He explains that “the prospect of another war” is “extremely painful”.

Asked about how evangelical churches are dealing with this situation on Armenian territory, he said that “having no control over the circumstances, the Church can do the only thing that can really make a difference at this stage. And that is praying”.

Camille Westphal Perrier (with AFP)

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