New details have emerged about the brazen ambush by Azerbaijani forces on an Artsakh Police vehicle on Sunday, as a result of which three Artsakh officers were killed and another was critically injured.
According to a new report marked “urgent” published by the Artsakh Human Rights Defender’s office, Azerbaijani forces fired hundreds of rounds at the Artsakh police vehicle, essentially spraying it with bullets as it was making its regular rounds.
Calling the incident a “pre-planned terrorist attack,” the report said the police vehicle left Stepanakert at around 9:30 a.m. local time, prior to which it was parked in front of the Artsakh Internal Affairs Ministry building.
There were four officers in the vehicle: Lt. Colonel Armen Babayan, Major Davit Danielyan, Lieutenant Ararat Gasparyan and Lieutenant Davit Hovsepyan.
“The collected data clearly show that the car was moving from Stepanakert. Thus, the claims by the Azerbaijani side that the Armenian side was transporting weapons and ammunition from the Republic of Armenia to Artsakh are groundless and false,” the report said. “There were only official documents and the personal weapons of the police officers in the vehicle.”
After approximately 30 to 40 minutes, the police officers noticed that the road was lined with large rocks that obstructed traffic, forcing them to stop the vehicle. At that point, five members of the Azerbaijani armed forces, dressed in military gear, masks and armed with assault rifles, emerged from behind the rocks aiming their weapons at the vehicle.
According to the report, the driver of the vehicle attempted to turn back, but at that moment the five Azerbaijani soldiers, from the front, as well as 10 other members of the group, who were lying in wait on the right and left sides of the road, began firing at the vehicle. The shooting continued for about 10 minutes.
“The external examination of the car clearly shows that hundreds of bullets were fired at the car by the Azerbaijani sabotage group,” the report said.
After the shooting stopped, three Azerbaijani soldiers approached the vehicle allegedly to inspect it, and then fired at the driver of the car and the passenger sitting next to him. According to Lieutenant David Hovsepian, the office who survived the ambush, the Azerbaijani soldier did not open the rear door of the vehicle, presumably not noticing that there also were passengers in the rear.
Then, the members of the Azerbaijani sabotage group began to leave the scene of the crime toward their military base located on the hill opposite the road.
“As a result of the retaliatory fire opened by the Armenian side during the retreat of the Azerbaijanis, there were casualties and injuries among the members of the Azerbaijani sabotage group,” the report said. Azerbaijan has reported that two of its soldiers were killed and three were injured.
The Russian peacekeeping forces arrived 30 to 40 minutes after the attack, according to the report, which claims that ambush ceased after their intervention.
Russian peacekeepers administered first aid on the scene to Ararat Gasparyan and Davit Hovsepyan and took them to the hospital. Gasparyan died en route to the hospital while Babayan and Danielyan were killed on the spot.
Hovsepyan received a gunshot wound in the chest and is in the Republican Medical Center. He underwent a surgery, is in the intensive care unit under the supervision of doctors, his life is not in danger.