YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced on July 31, that the armed opposition group, which had seized a Yerevan police station since July 17, surrendered to law enforcement authorities. According to the NSS, 20 gunmen were arrested after they surrendered.
A few hours before the NSS announced the surrender, RFE/RL’s Armenian service Azatutyun.am announced that two of the opposition gunmen had surrendered to the authorities. In a video released by Armenian police, the men identified as Ruben Grigorian and Gevorg Melkonian said that they were misled by fellow members of the armed group, and that they remained inside the seized police station out of fear for their own lives.
A day earlier, on July 30, a police officer was shot dead in a standoff with the armed group. The spokesperson for the Armenian police Ashot Aharonian said that Yura Tepanosian (b. 1986) was killed by sniper gun fire while sitting in a police car parked over 1,000 feet away from the seized police compound.
Armenian law enforcement authorities gave armed members of the radical armed group until 5 p.m. July 30, to lay down their arms or face a large-scale assault on the police station.
“Or else, special units of law-enforcement bodies will be authorized to open fire and neutralize, without prior warnings, any armed person in and outside the police regiment,” the NSS said in a statement. The NSS linked the ultimatum with intensive gunfire which it said the gunmen opened late on Friday at NSS and police units surrounding them. It said a number of police officers were wounded before the security forces returned fire.
“After what happened on the evening of July 29, all real possibilities of reaching a peaceful resolution of the situation with the terrorists have been exhausted,” declared the security agency. Use of force against them has become “absolutely necessary” in these circumstances, it added.
There have been ongoing protests happening on the streets of Yerevan for the past week. Riot police clashed with hundreds of people late on July 29 near the police compound. At least 40 injured people, 4 of them policemen, were taken to another Yerevan hospital, Surb Grigor Lusavorich. A senior doctor there told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that most of them suffered burns apparently caused by the police flashbangs.
The Armenian Weekly will be monitoring the situation and updating accordingly.