Yerevan standoff: Police disperse rally supporting gunmen

Supporters of the armed group that stormed a police department on July 17 initiated yet another rally on Friday, July 29.

Demonstrators gathered on Thursday too but the protest was called off due to the heavy rain in the Armenian capital.

First gathering at Yerevan‘s central Freedom Square, the protesters headed towards Khorenatsi street, where the seized patrol regiment is situated.

The police have cordoned off the area but the demonstrator managed to break through the fence and move closer to the occupied police HQ.

10:15 pm: Voices of gunshot and blast were heard in the district where the seized department is situated. An opposition MP, Armen Martirosyan said an operation is currently underway but warned protesters against approaching the territory of the patrol regiment.

10:05 pm: A PanARMENIAN.Net correspondent currently at the scene said that random bursts of fire were heard.

10:15 pm: Voices of gunshot and blast were heard in the district where the seized department is situated. An opposition MP, Armen Martirosyan said an operation is currently underway but warned protesters against approaching the territory of the patrol regiment.
10:20 pm: Protesters started to jostle with the police, trying to snatch the latter’s shields.
10:22 pm: Stun and gas grenades have probably been used by the police. Officers at the neighboring street are trying to persuade the demonstrators to leave the scene.
10:24 pm: In a live broadcast, MP Armen Martirosyan called on all the parliamentarians and political figures to take to the street “to prevent the imminent bloodshed.”
10:31 pm: Yerevan police chief Ashot Karapetyan and Deputy police chief Valery Osipyan urged MP Armen Martirosyan to take civilians away from the neighborhood (Sari Tagh) and the adjacent street (Khorenatsi).
10:34 pm: The situation is extremely tense. The police demand that protesters leave the area but the coordinators of the rally seek to negotiate with the police to avoid collisions.
10:43 pm: The police are uncompromising. They declared that the protest is illegal, demanding that the demonstrators leave the area.
10:45 pm: The protesters are leaving the area adjacent to the seized police department. Civilians are being detained.
10:47 pm: Shootings are constantly heard near the sezied police department. The police dispersed the rally, using tear gas and stun grenades.
11:16 pm:RFE/RL Armenian service is providing a live coverage of the incident, according to which protesters and some of their own correspondents were beaten by police officers wearing civilian clothes.
11:18 pm: According to preliminary data, several civilians were injured during the jostle with the police.

The group are members of the Sasna Tsrer (Daredevils of Sassoun) movement. One police officer was killed, and several more were wounded in a shootout that broke as the members of the group hit the gates of the police department with a track. All the captives have been set free. The group demand the release of Jirair Sefilian, the founder of the Founding Parliament who was arrested on June 20, as he and a group of people had allegedly planned to seize premises and communication facilities, including the Yerevan TV tower. They also demand the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan and the creation of a transitional government. Also, they want the authorities to halt Karabakh negotiations fearing they are going to cede some lands around the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Republic to Azerbaijan.

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