MOSCOW — Twelve mutilated corpses, 11 of them Armenians from a home for invalids, have been found in a sand pit in Soviet Azerbaijan, the official news agency Tass said Friday.
Tass did not say who was suspected of the killings. But the corpses--11 women and one man--appeared to be victims of an ethnic conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis that has claimed hundreds of casualties over the past two years.
Eleven were identified as handicapped Armenians who disappeared Jan. 24 from a home for invalids in the Azerbaijani city of Gyandzha, Tass said. It did not identify the other victim. All the dead had numerous bullet and knife wounds, the report said.
Tass said the bodies were found near the village of Enikend in the Shamkhorsky district northwest of Gyandzha. It did not say when they were found but reported that an investigation of the deaths is under way.
Last month about 70 Armenians were killed in pogroms in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. Others died in gun battles on the borders of the two neighboring republics and in racially mixed areas of Azerbaijan, in what Soviet officials called virtual civil war.
But the Gyandzha victims appear to have died after the Baku pogroms, which took place Jan. 13-15.
Moscow ordered troops into the border areas of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh on Jan. 16. Soviet troops entered Baku on Jan. 20, killing 140 people as tanks rolled over barricades built to keep the soldiers out.
At the root of the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute is Nagorno-Karabakh, geographically a part of Azerbaijan but having a majority population of Armenians who want to be united with Armenia.