Armenia has accused neighbouring Azerbaijan of deliberately shelling a historic Cathedral in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Fighting has erupted in recent weeks as the two countries battle for the contested Caucasus region, which is under Armenian control but recognized formally as part of Azerbaijan.
The Holy Savior Cathedral, also known as the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, was struck by a shell on Thursday, October 8, with the projectile piercing the building's dome and causing significant damage to the interior.
Reports indicate that children were inside the cathedral when it was hit, but managed to escape uninjured. Hours later, the building came under additional shelling, which resulted in two Russian journalists sustaining injuries - one of them remains in grave condition.
The Armenian foreign ministry called the shelling a “monstrous crime and a challenge to the civilized humankind”.
In response, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry denied the attack, insisting it "doesn’t target historic, cultural and, especially, religious buildings and monuments".
A priest at the cathedral, who identified himself as Father Andreas, told AP: “I feel the pain that the walls of our beautiful cathedral are destroyed.
"I feel the pain that today the world does not react to what’s happening here and that our boys are dying defending our Motherland.”
The prized Cathedral was restored following the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which came to an official end with a ceasefire in 1994. The Cathedral is under the governance of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The latest conflict has claimed the lives of several hundred people since breaking out roughly three weeks ago. International actors have since attempted to mediate a peace agreement without success.
Russia, which backs the majority-Christian and former soviet state of Armenia, suggested that a ceasefire be instituted so both sides can collect their dead and exchange prisoners. Though both sides eventually accepted the terms following lengthy talks in Moscow, they have since accused each other of further military offensives.