Armenians mourn victims of Soviet-Azerbaijani raids

May 05, 1991|By New York Times News Service

MOSCOW -- Tens of thousands of Arrmenians packed the central square of the Armenian capital, Yerevan, yesterday to mourn victims of the latest eruption in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

After hourlong services in the city's main square, crowds followed five flower-bedecked coffins to different cemeteries for burial services, reports from Yerevan said.

The memorial services were for residents of Getashen and Martunashen, two villages populated by Armenians in the neighboring republic of Azerbaijan.

At least 36 people have been killed there since Soviet and Azerbaijani security forces began what was described as a security sweep on April 30.

Armenians say that what followed was an unprovoked rampage and that the fighting continues. They maintain that both villages have been blockaded and are being fired on by Soviet tanks, and that the authorities have ordered people to leave the villages.

The Azerbaijani view is that armed Armenian villagers tried to resist the sweep and that large caches of arms were uncovered.

On Friday, leaders of the feuding republics met separately with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to seek a resolution to the latest conflict.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan, chairman of the Armenian Parliament, told a news conference in Moscow yesterday that he had appealed '' to Mr. Gorbachev to take several immediate

steps.

These included guarantees for the security of the residents in the two villages, assurances they would not be deported and facilities for helicopters to land in the villages to bring in emergency aid.

"If these conditions are fully met, the Armenian side will apply maximum efforts and will use all means at its disposal to end armed resistance," Mr. Ter-Petrosyan said.

Azerbaijani leader Ayaz Mutalibov could not be immediately reached, and the Kremlin gave no information on the meeting or on what measures Mr. Gorbachev intended to take.

Mr. Ter-Petrosyan said the eruption stemmed from a decision by the Soviet Interior Ministry some time ago to disarm Armenian guerrillas that it said were lodged in the two villages, which lie to the north of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Like the villages, the enclave is populated predominantly by Armenians. It was the focus of fierce clashes between the two ethnic groups in 1988 that touched off the continuing feud.

The Armenian leader said he had tried since April 6 to warn the authorities in Moscow against any action in the villages. It was only on May 1, however, the day after the clashes, that he finally got through to Mr. Gorbachev, he said.

According to the Armenian version, Soviet and Azerbaijani security forces entered the villages for a passport check April 30.

Mr. Ter-Petrosyan said the checks proceeded in the usual way until Azerbaijani troops demanded that the Soviet soldiers leave and began taking hostages and shooting at residents.

The Azerbaijani Interior Ministry said the troops had met with strong armed resistance.

The Azerbaijani press agency reported that searches had uncovered three mortar launchers, 48 mines, 15 home-made anti-tank mines, 84 other weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a variety of vehicles. The report said 45 guerrillas had been detained.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.