Sasna Tsrer group in Armenia lay down arms

On the morning of July 17, an armed group calling themselves Sasna Tsrer (Daredevils of Sassoun) seized a police compound in Yerevan’s district of Erebuni demanding the release of Karabakh war veteran, the Founding Parliament movement leader Jirair Sefilian accused of illegal possession of firearms. Sasna Tsrer also demanded the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan and cancellation of talks to cede some lands around the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast to Azerbaijan. Those in the building, as well as the deputy police chief of Armenia Vartan Yeghiazaryan and deputy police chief of Yerevan Valeriy Osipyan, who arrived at the site to hold negotiations, were taken hostage by the armed group. On July 23, the armed group released all hostages. On July 27, 4 ambulance personnel were held in the police building. However, paramedic David Tonoyan was released on the evening of the same day, while doctor Salvador Khechoyan was let go on July 29. Throughout the 2-week siege of the police compound, rallies were staged in support of Sasna Tsrer. On the night of July 29-30, dozens, including journalists, were injured as riot police fired grenades to disperse the demonstrators. 165 people were detained, 26 of them arrested.

On the evening of July 30 police officer Yura Tepanosyan (born 1986) was killed by sniper gunfire in a police car parked over 1,000 feet away from the seized police compound. According to the police statement, Tepanosyan was killed with a shot fired from the police department. The armed group, however, denied any involvement in the officer’s killing.

“The police officer wasn’t killed by us. There was no way for us to see the location where he was stationed, so, in all probability, he was accidentally killed by a police sniper. I don’t mean to say it was premeditated, still I’d like to once again assure that we didn’t fire the shot,” the armed group member Varuzhan Avetisyan said.

He also added that the ambulance personnel weren’t held hostage, they were free to go anytime they wished.

On July 31, it was reported that the doctors held in police compound left the seized building. The doctors were cited as saying that they escaped while the armed group members were sleeping.

Doctor Norayr Tevanyan and nurse Malina Margaryan were the last medical personnel to be released from the seized compound. Paramedic David Tonoyan and doctor Salvador Khechoyan were let go earlier.

On the morning of July 31, the sound of explosions and gunfire was constantly heard around the police compound. The Founding Parliament issued a statement suggesting one of the armed group members was injured.

“According to information we have, Seto Nazaryan was injured in his chest. He was taken away. However, we have no further reports on his state,” the statement said.

Later, Armenian police spokesman Ashot Aharonyan said in his Facebook post that Sedrak Nazaryan was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound in the morning of July 31 and was offered medical assistance.

Armenia’s Healthcare Ministry announced that the injured member of the armed group was hospitalized in intensive care and put on artificial ventilation. His condition is assessed as serious.

It was later reported that Sedrak Nazaryan’s co-villagers blocked the Yerevan-Meghri road in support of the armed group member.

Also, according to the Ministry of Healthcare, 3 more citizens hospitalized after the July 29 clashes with police were released from Surb Grigor Lusavorich medical center; as of July 31, 22 more people were receiving inpatient treatment.

On the evening of the same day, one of the leaders of Sasna Tsrer Varuzhan Avetisyan announced that the group is ready to lay down arms to avoid bloodshed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *