On September 27, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., an Armenian artillery attack killed five members of the Gurbanov family, all civilians, and damaged several homes in Gashalti, Naftalan district, three witnesses said. The village has approximately 1,200 residents. The attack hit Nadir Gurbanov’s home and killed his father, Elbrus, 69, mother, Shefiyat Gurbanova, 64, wife, Afag Amirova, 39, a niece, Fidan Gurbanova, 14, and his son Shariyar, 13. His one surviving son is attending secondary school in Baku.
Nadir, 41, a military serviceman, was stationed with his regiment about three kilometers away. “I saw one shell land near my house, and another shell a minute or two later, so I rushed home to check,” he said.
Nadir’s cousin, Mohammad Mammadov, said he arrived at the house to see Nadir hugging pieces of children’s bodies. “It was impossible to recognize them,” he said. “They were charred and had been hurled in every direction by the blast.” Human Rights Watch examined the severely damaged house and found several munition remnants in the courtyard that were consistent with fragments of large-caliber artillery.
In the late afternoon of 27 September, the first day of the war, Armenian forces launched an artillery salvo on the home of the Gurbanov family, killing five family members and partially destroying the house. Bakhtiyar Gurbanov recounted the incident, saying: The shell struck here, on the steps, by the entrance. It killed both my parents, my father Elbrus and my mother Shafayat, my brother’s wife, Afaq, my nephew Shahriyar, and my niece Fidan. Our family was destroyed. We had started to renovate the house before the war, now we can’t bear to be here anymore. We have left everything as it was at the time of the attack. My brothers and I can’t bear to think about it, to remember what happened. It was a terrible sight.
As even modern artillery has a CEP of at least 100 metres at the weapon’s typically employed range, this weapon should never be used in the vicinity of concentration of civilians.15 It cannot be accurately deployed against military objectives in the midst of populated civilian areas and its use in such circumstances violates the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks.