A member of Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action is seen in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh on October 8, 2020. Two journalists were recently killed by a landmine in the region. (Reuters/Aziz Karimov)

Landmine kills 2 Azerbaijani journalists near Nagorno-Karabakh

New York, June 4, 2021 — In response to news reports that Azerbaijani journalists Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishev were killed by a landmine in Azerbaijan today, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“The killing of journalists Maharram Ibrahimov and Siraj Abishev in the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan today was a needless tragedy. Armenian authorities should share their landmine maps with the members of the press to ensure that no other journalists become victims in the conflict,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. “We call on all parties in the area to ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely.”  

Ibrahimov, a correspondent for the Azerbaijani state news agency AzerTag, and Abishev, a camera operator with the Azerbaijani state broadcaster AzTV, were on assignment while riding in a bus in Kalbajar district, near Nagorno-Karabakh, today when the vehicle hit a landmine, according to multiple news reports and a tweet by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.

Both journalists and an Azerbaijani government official were killed in the blast, which also wounded several other passengers including AzTV producer Emil Mammedov, according to those reports, which did not state the extent of Mammedov’s injuries.

Azerbaijan’s military has accused Armenian soldiers of planting landmines in areas previously controlled by Armenian forces, a claim Armenia denies, according to those reports, which described the Armenia-Azerbaijan border area as “one of the most heavily mined regions in the former Soviet Union.”

Last year, at least six journalists were injured in shelling while covering the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as CPJ documented at the time.

[Editors’ note: This article has been updated to correct the location where the journalists were killed.]