24 October 2016

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Armenian officials reject hostage-takers' demands

Armenian authorities have rejected the demands by a group of armed men who have taken hostages in a police station in the capital, Yerevan, according to RFE/RL.


The National Security Service (NSS) officials also warned the group that it must surrender to security forces to end a standoff that began early on July 17 when the armed men stormed the Erebuni district police headquarters, RFE/RL reported.

General Hunan Poghosian, the first deputy chief of Armenia's police, said one police colonel was killed and four other police officers were wounded during the attack.

Azerbaijan, Armenia see peaceful resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflictOne hostage, who was feeling unwell, was released while another five remain in captivity, with deputy police chief Vardan Egiazaryan among them, local media reported.

Security officials have continued negotiations with the gunmen through the night.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the attackers demand the release of an arrested participant of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the leader of the radical opposition’s Front of National Salvation "New Armenia" Zhirayr Sefilyan, who is accused of illegal purchase and possession of weapons

Poghosian ruled out releasing Sefilian and urged the armed men to surrender.

Sefilian and six of his supporters were arrested on June 20 after the authorities initially said they were preparing a plot to seize several government buildings and telecommunication facilities in Yerevan.

Selfian’s group is particularly critical of the way the government has been handling a long-running conflict in Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

He was formally charged with illegal acquisition and possession of weapons. Sefilian says the case against him is politically motivated.

Just days before his arrest, Sefilian announced plans to set up a new opposition movement called the National Resistance Committee. He said the new movement would try to topple the government “with the help of the people and the army.”

Sefilian already has a history of arrests in Armenia. In 2006, he was detained over calls for "a violent overthrow of the government." He was released in 2008.

In 2015, Sefilian was arrested again along with several of his supporters on suspicion of preparing a coup, but released shortly afterwards.

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