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Azerbaijan: Blogger response to University massacre

Information about the tragedy which occurred in Baku at the end of last month, shocking many worldwide, was slow to emerge, and even more than a week later, there are still many questions left unanswered. However, what is known is that on the morning of 30 April 2009, 13 people were killed in a terrifying shooting spree at the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy.

But, with very little local reporting on the incident, many such as 27 months in Azerbaijan were at first unsure what exactly had happened.

There was a shooting at a university in Baku today. The only thing that I’ve heard that seems credible is that there was a Georgian who was ethnically Azeri that entered the school and started shoot at people as he made his way up a staircase before turning the gun on himself. [...]

I’ve heard rumors of up to 50 people dead and up to three gunmen, but I’m not sure what to believe at this point.

Indeed, the media in the country failed to report on the incident until hours after the international media had, as Jessica P. Hayden is off the map pointed out.

[...] while the murders were taking place with police rushing to the scene the television channels all continued to broadcast their midday talk shows. (Think very, very low budget Oprah or Ellen.) No cut away to breaking news. No updates. One woman I talked to seethed that she got better information from internet message boards than from any official news sources. [...]

Some students shot video of the horrific scenes inside the university with their mobile phones as they were evacuated.

A week after the tragic events, Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines remembers first hearing the news.

30th of April, I am in Istanbul, heading to work, seems like just a normal day, the weather is finally sunny. But everything changes once I arrive to my office, a colleague tells me if I have heard what happened at one of the Baku's Universities [...]. I turn on my computer and check the news- 22 students died (the actual number was 13 according to the latest news that day) in tragic shootings at Azerbaijan's Oil Academy. First comes the shock, then comes sadness, followed by anger.

I frantically check the news every 15 minutes- nothing much, still the same, x number of people dead, x number of people wounded. I check my Facebook, news are everywhere- all my friends’ upload the latest numbers.

[...]

But still no precise news about the perpetrators, the reason behind the shooting and the true story. [...]

Writing for the Frontline Club, Global Voices Online author Ali S. Novruzov raises some questions now being asked by many in Baku, as does Side-Talks Azerbaijan.

As we sympathize with the families of those who have lost their love ones, it is wise to put some questions in perspective. It could be anybody, but why is there no concrete news as to what actually happened? Why is there still no defined motive for the killings? Who were those involved? And to what extent has investigations revealed other “assumed” accomplice?

Meanwhile, Sheki, Azerbaijan sums up the shock felt by everyone in the country that day and says the tragedy will be remembered for years to come.

Unfortunately 30 April 2009 in memories of many families in Azerbaijan will stay as the day when their children went to university and never returned home. Today gunman shot to death at least 13 people in Oil Academy of Azerbaijan in Baku and many are heavily wounded. We don't know the reasons yet…and no reason will return those innocent victims (Allah rəhmət eləsin – Peace be with all victims).

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