Two men beheaded in videos from Nagorno-Karabakh war identified

Ethnic Armenian men refused to leave their villages before Azerbaijani forces arrived, locals say

By Andrew Roth

Two elderly men who were beheaded by Azerbaijani forces in videos widely shared on messaging apps have been identified, confirming two of the bloodiest atrocities of the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The ethnic Armenian men were non-combatants, people in their respective villages said. Both were beheaded by men in the uniforms of the Azerbaijani armed forces. The short, gruesome videos of the killings are among the worst of a torrent of footage portraying abuse, torture and murder that has continued to emerge more than a month after a Russian-brokered ceasefire came into force.

The villagers’ testimony in interviews with the Guardian corroborates identifications by a human rights ombudsman for the Armenian-backed local government and two prominent Armenian human rights lawyers preparing a criminal case relating to the murders.

The Guardian also confirmed one of the victim’s identities with a relative, and reviewed a passport application photograph that strongly resembles the other victim.