BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) – Tens of thousands of people marched through Azerbaijan’s capital on Sunday to commemorate the killing 20 years ago of hundreds of people during a war with Armenia over disputed territory.
President Ilham Aliyev led the march in Baku, which ended at a monument to the victims of the Khojaly massacre. Officials said 60,000 people took part. Tens of thousands also turned out for rallies in Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.
By Azerbaijan’s count, 613 residents of Khojaly were killed on Feb. 26, 1992, after fleeing the town as it fell to Armenian troops.
Armenians have not denied the attack, but insist the death toll is exaggerated. Turkey and Azerbaijan have called for world recognition of the killings as a crime against humanity.
International rights groups have been uncertain about the exact death toll, but condemn the killings and consider them the worst massacre of the war that broke out between the two neighbors as the Soviet Union began to fall apart.
Ethnic Armenian forces now control Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan, where about 30,000 people were killed and 1 million were displaced during the six-year conflict.
A ceasefire was declared in 1994, but violations have been frequent and diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have failed.
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