YEREVAN (Azg)–Azerbaijan returned 18 hostages to Armenia in 1997. Twelve of these hostages were civilians and six were military staff. They were held captive in Azerbaijan not as a result of military action–but were either captured in other regions or held under false pretext between May of 1996 and May of 1997. One was captured in Turkey–seven in various CIS countries–and ten at the border.
Executive Director of the Fund for the Protection of Hostages Larisa Alaverdian said no information is available on hostages imprisoned before May 1996. The Fund has a database of prisoners of war–hostages–and those lost–including 642 civilians–432 of whom were old people who lived in Shahumian until 1992. Incomplete information is available on only 100 people. No information is available on the rest.
Azerbaijan denies holding hostages–yet the Fund has reliable information about their existence in Sumgait–Gyanja–Gobustan–and Shubani.