In war-hit Karabakh capital, residents inspect destroyed homes

Guennadi Avanessian had a large two-story house at 28 Saroyan Street with a wooden deck and grapevines laden with dark grapes.
But his comfortable bourgeois home on an affluent street in the capital of the war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh region was torn to pieces during the conflict between neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"I spent two years renovating this house with my own hands, and (Azerbaijani President) Aliyev destroyed it with his bombs in two seconds," Avanessian raged at anyone who listens behind his mustache.
With a blue hat on his head, the 70-year-old climbs onto the huge pile of rubble that is all that remains after the gutted house collapses.
With a shovel he searches through the twisted sheet metal, parts of the structure of the house and traces of his former life.
Azerbaijani troops bombed the area a week ago and it is the first time Avanessian has returned.
He wants to scrape together what can be salvaged during a break in the fighting after a ceasefire went into effect on Saturday lunchtime.
"I was here when the missile came down. I heard a whistle and rushed into the basement. I was two seconds away from being killed," he recalls.
His son-in-law, who was also in the house that day, got away with an injury - a small miracle given the total destruction of the house.
"It's a Smerch missile that did this," says Avanessian, referring to the Soviet-era "tornado" projectiles that fell around the ethnically Armenian demolition area in Karabakh's largest city last week.
"Where will I live now? Under the stars, under the rain? I had everything, and now I have nothing, I can not find anything. Everything has blown apart. The only thing I could find was a suitcase with children's clothes." he complains and shows the battered, ancient bag.
"How can a man do that to another? Aliyev, you say Karabakh is Azerbaijan. If I live in Azerbaijan, why did you bomb my house?" asks Avanessian.
"I built this house to live in peace and they destroyed it. Azerbaijanis are bombing civilians. They are murderers, extremists!"
The retired policeman is also not sparing Turkey, which has encouraged its ally Azerbaijan during the fighting.
"A curse on Erdogan!" He tells the reporter and photographer about AFP and insults the Turkish President.
"If you were here in front of me, I would chop you to death with an ax."
hba / tgb / adp / rbu

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