The city of Ağın was initially founded by Armenians who had migrated there from Iran. In 1896, the city was evenly divided between Muslims and Armenians. The city was recognized for its wealth and had previously escaped the 1895-1896 Hamidian massacres through a ransom payment by the Armenians of 1500 Turkish gold pounds.
On September 15, 1896, three weeks after the raid of the Ottoman Bank by ArmenianDashnaks as a response to the Hamidian massacres, Turkish authorities organized a new massacre in the city of Ağın. Ottoman troops killed "upwards of 2000 Armenians" including "many women and children" according to a report by the French Ambassador. Of the 1500 houses located in the Armenian quarter of Ağın, 980 were pillaged and burned. Ağın was chosen to be the target of the massacre because the leader of the bank raiding party who was killed at the start of the raid, Papken Siuni, was native to the city of Ağın. According to a report by the British Consul at Harput, the pretext used to attack the city's Armenian quarter was that the Armenians of the said city were "set to cause trouble". The same report by the Consul said that there were no revolutionary movement whatever and no powder magazine exploded during the massacre. A few pistols and revolvers were found in the ruins of the burnt houses.