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Askeran clash

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The Askeran clash (February 22-23, 1988) was one of the early confrontations which evolved into the full blown Nagorno-Karabakh War betweens Armenians and Azerbaijan after Armenians began petitioning for Karabakh - a heavily Armenian populated enclave in the Azerbaijani SSR - to be transferred to the Armenian SSR.

As as result of this clash between an Azeri crowd and Armenian residents near Askeran, Azerbaijan, two Azerbaijani's were reported to have died, and two days of pogroms by Azerbaijanis against Armenian residents broke out in Sumgait, a city far removed from the Karabakh enclave[1], which became a further escalation of the conflict.


On February 22, a crowd of Azeris surrounded the local (Aghdam?) Communist Party headquarters, demanding information about rumors of an Azerbaijani having been killed in Stepanakert. They were informed that no such incident had occurred, but refused to believe it. Dissatisfied with what they were told, thousands began marching toward Nagorno-Karabakh, “wreaking destruction en route.” The authorities mobilized roughly a thousand police to stop the riots; the result was a clash in the Askeran region of Nagorno-Karabakh that left two Azerbaijanis dead, 50 Armenian villagers, and an unknown number of Azerbaijanis and police, injured. [2] [3]

On Azerbaijani Radio, deputy attorney general Katusev reported the fact that ‘two inhabitants of the Agdam district fell victim to murder’, giving two Muslim surnames [4]. This news, according to Tamara Dragadze, was announced to show the gravity of the conflict and to calm down sentiments. [5]


The announcement on Azerbaijani radio of these two deaths at Askeran was the spark for two days of pogroms by Azerbaijanis against Armenian residents in that distant city far removed from the Karabakh enclave[6], which itself became an escalation of the conflict.


  1. Ethnic Fears and Ethnic War In Karabagh - Stuart J. Kaufman - Page 23
  2. Elizabeth Fuller, “Nagorno-Karabakh: The Death and Casualty Toll to Date,” RL 531/88, Dec. 14, 1988, pp. 1–2.
  3. Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War - Page 63 by Stuart J. Kaufman
  4. The New York Times, 11 March 1988, p. A6.
  5. The Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict: Structure and Sentiment”, in Third World Quarterly, No. 1 (January) 1989, p. 56; or Dragadze
  6. Ethnic Fears and Ethnic War In Karabagh - Stuart J. Kaufman - Page 23

See also