UPDATES WITH REMARKS FROM TURKISH PARLIAMENT HEAD, CABINET MINISTERS
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey on Friday commemorated the anniversary of the Khojaly massacre, in which hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens were killed by Armenian forces 29 years ago.
On Feb. 26, 1992, as many as 613 innocent Azerbaijani citizens, including 106 women, 63 children, and 70 elderly people, were indiscriminately killed, with hundreds more wounded by Armenian troops in their attack on the town of Khojaly in Azerbaijan's Upper Karabakh region
On Twitter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commemorated the Azerbaijanis "brutally murdered in Khojaly 29 years ago."
Erdogan expressed condolences to the Azerbaijani people, adding: "We are one nation, two states. As Turkey, we will continue to support the rightful cause of Azerbaijan."
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also marked the anniversary of the "brutal" massacre and conveyed his condolences to the people of Azerbaijan.
Kalin also vowed to "never forget and not let it be forgotten."
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop branded the massacre a "historical disgrace" and expressed condolences to the Azerbaijani people.
Separately, Turkey's ministers of justice, environment and urbanization, the interior, education, and health all commemorated the anniversary.
A Foreign Ministry statement said: "We know that the wounds from the Khojaly Massacre, which happened before the entire world, are still fresh, [and] we feel and share the pain of Azerbaijan in the deepest part of our hearts."
The statement said that over 1,000 people were taken prisoner in the attack, with the fate of many still unknown.
“We wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives in this massacre and extend once again our most sincere condolences to all Azerbaijani people," added the statement.
On the subject of last fall’s liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian occupation, Turkey also commemorated "the martyrs who lost their lives when Azerbaijan liberated its occupied territories and paved the way home to approximately 1 million Azerbaijanis who were displaced."
Separately, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Twitter commemorated the Azerbaijanis "who were brutally murdered in Khojaly 29 years ago."
"We have not forgotten and will not forget this crime against humanity," Cavusoglu said.
On Feb. 26, 1992, with the Soviet Union just dissolved, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly in then-occupied Karabakh after battering it using heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by infantry.
The massacre is seen as one of the bloodiest atrocities by Armenian forces against Azerbaijani civilians in the Upper Karabakh region, which was liberated by Azerbaijan forces last fall after decades of occupation.
Some 150 of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians captured during the massacre remain missing. In the massacre, eight families were completely wiped out, while 130 children lost one parent and 25 children lost both parents.