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Gunmen surrender in Armenia police station siege

July 31, 2016

Police have arrested 20 "terrorists" after gunmen who occupied a police station in the Armenian capital surrendered. The armed group called for a jailed opposition leader to be released and for the president to resign.

Armenian police cordoning off the area where the police station is located
Image: picture alliance/dpa/Photolure/H. Baghdasaryan

A group of anti-government gunmen surrendered to police on Sunday after occupying a police station in the Armenian capital of Yerevan for two weeks.

"The security forces' anti-terrorist operation has ended and led to the members of the armed group laying down their weapons and surrendering to the authorities," Armenia's security services said. "Twenty terrorists were arrested."

Earlier Sunday, an Armenian website published a statement reportedly made by a member of the group preempting the gunmen's surrender.

"We will continue our struggle from prison. We believe that we have achieved our goal: we became the spark that allowed people to rise up and it makes no sense to spill blood," Varuzhan Avetisyan, a leading member of the group, was quoted as saying.

Call for president to resign

Riot police arrested dozens during the anti-government protests
Riot police arrested dozens during the anti-government protestsImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/H. Khachatryan

The group's surrender ended a weeks-long occupation of the police station, which began when the gunmen stormed the station on July 17, killing an officer and taking several hostages.

The gunmen called for jailed opposition leader Jirair Sefilian to be released and demanded the resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

The occupation prompted mass pro-opposition protests in the capital. Police on Friday used truncheons, stun grenades and smoke bombs to disperse crowds, leaving more than 70 people injured.

A police officer was killed by sniper fire on Saturday, and authorities have blamed the gunmen. However, the group has denied any involvement with the shooting.

ls/cmk (AFP, Reuters)