'Terrorists' seize police HQ in Armenia's capital, kill 1, take hostages
The hostage takers are being described as terrorists by local authorities.
“During the ongoing negotiations authorities are trying to convince the terrorists to refrain from any movements that can endanger people’s lives, to free hostages, give up their arms and surrender to the officials,” the statement published by the Armenian National Security Agency reads.
The local police chief, Valery Osipyan, is among the hostages, authorities confirmed to Armenian news agency Arminfo.
Troops have been dispatched to the area, and the head of the country’s security forces, Vladimir Gasparyan, is on the scene as well.
"SWAT police units and other law enforcers are in a combat-ready state, but they have not received the order to begin a special operation so far,” Unan Pogosyan, Armenia’s vice-police chief said as quoted by RIA news agency.
Police also claim that it’s ready to do all it takes to resolve the situation peacefully, however it said that storming the building is not being ruled out. “We have enough resources to disarm and arrest them,” Pogosyan went on to tell reporters as cited by Arminfo.
The attack began when an armed group in trucks rammed through the gates of the police headquarters and took control of the building.
Two hostages have been freed by special forces, Armenia’s national Security Service said in a statement.
“Law enforcement is in full control of the situation and doing everything necessary to achieve a resolution.”
The attack was launched to demand the release of Armenian opposition figure Jirair Sefilyan, who was detained on June 20 after authorities allegedly uncovered a plot to seize several buildings and telecommunication facilities in Yerevan.
“That demand cannot be fulfilled,” Armenia’s vice-police chief told reporters
Earlier supporters of the attackers have been spreading information about “an armed rebellion” via social networks.
“This information being spread isn’t consistent with reality. State government bodies are working in standard operating mode, and law enforcement authorities are conducting activities to ensure public order and state security.”
People are being evacuated from apartment buildings near the scene, local media report.
Sefilyan’s supporters had declared earlier that they intended to “change the state of things in Armenia” by inciting “an armed rebellion.”
“We have already seized one of the main police hubs in Yerevan and are in control of the Erebuni,” their statement said, referring to an area in the south of the Armenian capital.
Last October, Jirayr Serfilyan and his opposition movement, “New Armenia,” announced that they would launch a “process of the civil disobedience and change of power.”
“Achieving the shift of power only through elections is impossible; it can be achieved only by an armed rebellion of the people,” Sefilyan said at a public demonstration at the time.