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Armenian Police Officer Shot Dead In Yerevan Standoff

July 30, 2016
by RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Authorities say an Armenian police officer has been shot dead in an ongoing standoff with opposition gunmen barricaded inside a police station in the capital, Yerevan.

Police spokesman Ashot Aharonian said the 30-year-old policeman, Yuri Tepanosian, was killed on July 30 by sniper fire as he sat in a police car parked "350-400 meters" from the compound.

The incident occurred just a few hours before a deadline was set to expire for the gunmen to leave the premises or face a full-scale assault.

The gunmen have been inside the building since July 17, demanding the release of an opposition figure, among other things.

An RFE/RL correspondent heard several gunshots on a blocked street leading to the seized compound at around 6 p.m. local time, about an hour after the ultimatum issued by authorities had expired.

The AFP news agency later reported that hundreds of supporters of the gunmen gathered in central Yerevan late on July 30.

"Bring your relatives and your neighbours onto the streets!" cried protester Albert Bagdassian.

"Our goal is to support the group against which the security services have decided to launch an assault, to march on the street, to paralyze traffic and to show that we are not afraid."

The police station was seized on July 17 by about 30 gunmen, who killed one officer and wounded several others in the attack.

They are demanding freedom for the fringe opposition leader Zhirayr Sefilian, who was arrested in June. They have also demanded that Armenia's president and prime minister step down.

Eight of the gunmen have been wounded since the takeover, including three shot in the legs on July 29, apparently by snipers.

Late on July 29, hundreds of supporters tried to march to the police compound, but were blocked by riot police.

Authorities said earlier on July 30 that 75 were injured in the clashes and more than 20 detained.

Three RFE/RL correspondents were among members of the media beaten with stick and metal bars by men who appeared to be plainclothes police officers.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent expressed "outrage" over the attack on journalists doing their job.

Authorities on July 30 promised to investigate.

Police said 165 people were rounded up during the demonstration and all but 26 were released.

With reporting by Suren Musayelyan and AFP

Source: standoff-police-killed/27890220.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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