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Historic Azerbaijan Graveyard Destroyed

April 21, 2006
 

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 21 (UPI) -- Officials said a medieval cemetery with a collection of several thousand carved stone crosses on Azerbaijan`s southern border has been destroyed.

The destruction of the Jugha cemetery is believed to he related to the conflict between Azerbaijan and its western neighbor, Armenia, The Times of London reports.

The Times quoted the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London as saying there is only a dry patch of earth where once stood between 2,700 and 10,000 intricately carved headstones dating from the 9th to the 16th centuries. The act is being likened to the Taliban`s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, the newspaper said.

The institute`s report is the first independent confirmation of what Armenia has long alleged -- that Azerbaijani authorities have razed the cemetery since the two former Soviet republics began a border war in 1988. The war ended in a cease-fire in 1994 but continues to simmer.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly dismissed Armenia`s allegations and accused Armenia of destroying hundreds of Muslim sites, the report said.

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