The Askeran clash
(February 22-23, 1988) was one of the starting points of Armenian
conflict resulting in Nagorno-Karabakh War
On February 22, two days after the request of Karabakh National Council
to transfer the region of Nagorno-Karabakh
, a crowd of Azeris
surrounded the local Communist Party headquarters, demanding information about rumors of an Azerbaijani having been killed in Stepanakert
. They were informed that no such incident had occurred, but refused to believe it. Dissatisfied with what they were told, thousands began marching toward Nagorno-Karabakh
, “wreaking destruction en route.” The authorities mobilized roughly a thousand police to stop the riots; the result was a clash in the Askeran region of Nagorno-Karabakh
that left two Azerbaijanis dead, 50 Armenian
villagers, and an unknown number of Azerbaijanis and police, injured.
On Azerbaijani Radio, deputy attorney general Katusev reported the fact that "two inhabitants of the Agdam district fell victim to murder", giving two Muslim surnames . These news, according to Tamara Dragadze, were announced to show the gravity of the conflict and to calm down sentiments .
The news of these clashes along with ongoing deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia sparked Sumgait pogrom against Armenian residents of the city of Sumgait in Azerbaijan on February 27. The violence was led, to some degree, by refugees from Armenia, perhaps as many as 2000 of them made even more desperate by being forced to take shelter in the appalling conditions of Sumgaits shantytown.