Allan Kaval, the Le Monde journalist injured in Azerbaijani shelling in the city of Martuni, has posted an extended message on Facebook, expressing gratitude to everyone who helped save his life.
The full text of the post is provided below:
It hit hard. But I’m here.
Last Thursday, my journalist colleague Hermine Virabyan, photojournalist Rafael Yaghobzadeh and myself were covering the ongoing brutal conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh from the town on Martuni, not far from the front lines.
It was midday and and from the residential street we were walling on, we heard the sound of grad rockets being fired at us from the Turkish-aligned Azeri lines.
They were bombing the town and we were hit in a rain of fire and metal.
Among us us, Grisha Narinyan, an employee of the Martuni municipality, who was showing us locations of earlier attacks died on the spot.
He was 28 years old.
My thoughts go to him and his family everyday. Grisha died because he wanted the outside world to know what his people were going through.
May he rest in peace along with the 3 other civilians who died on that strike.
Our driver Armen Sayian was lighly injured but still suffers headaches from the blast.
My colleague, Hermine, who I appreciate so much despite the short time we worked together, was thankfully left unharmed. My friend and colleague, Rafael, was wounded on the head and on a leg.
If I understand correctly, I was hit by about a dozen pieces of shrapnel in various places. Some pierced my abdomen and made their way through it.
I am now recovering step by step, day by day.
However I would not be able to write these words if it was not for an immense chain of people who saved me in Martuni, Stepanakert, Yerevan and Paris. Some are famous, some are my friends, some I will never know.
This chain of people, among whom are citizens of Martuni who played a decisive role in the first moments, worked tirelessly to get us to safety.
Let me thank my journalist colleagues who picked me up from the burnt ground and drove me to the medical centre in the town. Let me thank my other colleagues who were who were there and let Paris know about the situation, especially Hermine and Regis Genté. Let me thank all the staff at the Martuni medical centre who, in the middle of an attack on their town, found the time to save two foreigners. Let me thank the men who took me from Martuni to Stepanakert Hospital in an old ambulance, speeding on the winding roads while gently avoiding the bumps.
I know how much the staff of Stepanakert Hospital did tremendous work to save me. I have not yet been able to get to know the names of all of them, but I am deeply grateful to each and every one of them. I am also deeply grateful to the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and France, who secured our transfer by helicopter to Yerevan.
Of course, not of it would have been possible without President Macron, who spoke publicly about our case and did the impossible to get us out, and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The crisis centre at the Foreign Ministry did everything they could to coordinate these efforts and I want to thank its head, Eric Chevallier.
I want to thank in particular the staff of the French embassy in Yerevan, who worked tirelessly to get us home in the best conditions possible, under Ambassador Jonathan Lacôte and with First secretary Claire le Flécher.
I am also extremely grateful to my colleagues at Le Monde, who coordinated with all the relevant authorities in order to get us out. I am so grateful to work with such a supportive group of people. I thank all of them for their thoughts, their support and their work on those very long days. I want to thank in particular Jerôme Fenoglio, Luc Bronner, Alain Salles,Valerie Miché, Piotr Smolar, Isabelle Mandraud, Marie Sumala, Nicolas Jimenez and Hélène Sallon who coordinated around the clock from Paris.
And of course, I need to thank very warmly the great teams from AXA who organised logistics.
Now, to all my friends: for all your messages of support, from all over the world, for all your thoughts, for your love, I am eternally grateful.
As soon as I am stronger, I will take the time to answer all of your kind messages. Your words, even if left unanswered for many days, are a big part of the healing process.
I apologise to all my loved ones, especially to my family and to my Rebecca, for the amount of stress I put them under.
I am now recovering thanks to all of you.
I am being looked after in Paris at La Pitié Salpétriére by the most dedicated, professional and kind doctors and nurses.
Everyday marks a new step towards my full recovery.
It will take a bit of time, but I know that you are with me.