Hundreds of thousands of Armenians laid flowers Sunday at a monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, creating mounds of blossoms that rose higher throughout the day.

This year’s 96th anniversary of the start of the slaughter has added poignancy because it coincides with Easter and the Christian celebration of rebirth.

Armenians say that 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, which Armenians and several nations around the world recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey denies that the massacres were genocide, saying the death toll is inflated and Armenians were killed in civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

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