A group of about 50 Armenian protesters stormed the Azerbaijani embassy in Beirut on Wednesday, throwing paint and explosives at the building and causing damage to the property. The embassy staff were not injured in the attack, which was condemned by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry as a “provocation”.
The protesters, who were holding a rally in front of the embassy, broke through the fence around the administrative building and hurled bottles filled with paint and explosives into the premises. The security forces arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, but the attackers managed to flee.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had sent a note to the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, demanding the identification and arrest of the perpetrators and the protection of the diplomatic mission. The statement also said that security around the embassy had been reinforced and an investigation into the offense was underway.
The attack comes amid heightened tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which erupted again in September 2020 after a long period of relative calm. The two countries fought a 44-day war that ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement, which saw Azerbaijan regain control over most of the territories it had lost to Armenian forces in the early 1990s.
The Armenian protesters in Beirut were reportedly expressing their anger over the recent opening of a cultural center in Shusha, a city in Nagorno-Karabakh that was recaptured by Azerbaijan during the war. The cultural center, named after the late Azerbaijani leader Heydar Aliyev, was inaugurated by his son and current president Ilham Aliyev on August 12.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry denounced the opening of the cultural center as a “desecration” of Shusha, which it considers as part of its historical and cultural heritage. The ministry also accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire agreement and pursuing a policy of “ethnic cleansing” in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan, on the other hand, defended its right to restore and develop its territories, which it said had been occupied and devastated by Armenia for nearly three decades. The country also rejected any claims of ethnic discrimination or human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that it was committed to ensuring peace and stability in the region.