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Armenia: No End in Sight for Hostage Crisis

Following the early-morning takeover of a police station in the Armenian capital, police have blocked the entrance to the street leading to the police station, and brought in armored vehicles, special forces and, allegedly, snipers. (Photo: Anahit Hayrapetyan)

An armed opposition group’s takeover of a police station in the Armenian capital Yerevan has deepened longstanding divisions in this South Caucasus country as government critics and supporters exchange blame for a deadlocked crisis that already has led to the death of one person.
 
Early in the morning of July 17, roughly a dozen men, many veterans of Armenia’s 1988-1994 war with Azerbaijan over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, broke into the Erebuni district’s police station with a truck, taking several policemen hostage. One policeman, Colonel Artur Vanoian, was killed in the attack, and two other individuals were wounded.
 
The group, led by Pavel Manukian, a mustachioed, rifle-toting, 50-something-year-old war veteran, called for the freedom of Zhirayr Sefilian, the leader of the Founding Parliament group of which the gunmen are members. Sefilian was jailed in late June for allegedly plotting a government takeover. The group also demanded freedom for another dozen suspected political prisoners, as well as the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan.
 

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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Armenia and editor of MediaLab.am.

Armenia: No End in Sight for Hostage Crisis

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