STEPANAKERT — On September 27, a peaceful Sunday morning, residents and tourists alike in Artsakh awoke to the boom of artillery fire and the eerie buzz of Azeri drones.
This cacophony marked the start of a full-fledged attack, as Azeri howitzers opened fire along the entire line of contact, shelling multiple settlements including Stepanakert, Artsakh’s capital. In the wake of the renewed attacks, the Artsakh Ministry of Defense branded the Azeris aggressors and murderers at a press conference at 11 a.m. The Ministry of Defense reported that Azeri artillery fire had struck arms caches and other military targets. They reported 10 civilian casualties, including one child, and called on every able-bodied man to fight.
For people in Artsakh, the escalation in hostilities was marked by confusion, fear and uncertainty. By quarter past seven, the cool morning air in Stepanakert became filled with the haunting drone of Azeri unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and the shattering thunder of Artsakh’s artillery and anti-aircraft guns.
Holiday goers such as Lucy Vartevanian reported that her hotel room windows shook with each instance of artillery fire, as air raid warnings blared, and civilian vehicles sped through the city flashing their hazards and honking their horns. She assumed it was a training exercise. “I initially thought the shooting was part of a training exercise,” she explained, “but as the booms got louder, and warning sirens went off, I soon understood this wasn’t just practice.”
Lucy and her husband ultimately opted to make their way back to Yerevan despite a lack of information: “We were concerned as we didn’t know if the roads would be blocked or the border closed.”
Nevertheless, the decision to leave proved to be well-timed, as the situation continued to deteriorate.