‘Daredevils’ Leader Injured During Gunfire; Police Arrest Protesters

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The large crowd of demonstrators at Republic Square in Yerevan on Tuesday night

Two Gunmen Reportedly Surrender, As Thousands Continue Anti-Government Protests
YEREVAN—Gunfire erupted at a police compound that has been seized by an armed group calling itself the “Daredevils of Sasoun” early Wednesday morning local time. Police reported that two of the armed gunmen and one police officer were wounded and were immediately rushed to the hospital.

The police public information officer, Ashot Aharonyan, confirmed that two members of the “Daredevils of Sasoun,” Pavel Manoukyan and his son, Aram, along with a police officer were injured doing the shooting.

On his Facebook post, Aharonyan said that two members of the “Daredevils,” Gagik Yeghiazaryan and Aram Hakobyan had surrendered to the police. Others reported that the two did not surrender but were forcibly removed. Police reporters that negotiations were underway to end the standoiff.

This came following an even larger demonstration through the streets of Yerevan, gathering for rally at Khorentasi Street steps away from the police compound, which was seized on July 17 by the “Daredevils of Sasoun,” who are demanding the release of opposition leader Jirair Sefilian, who was arrested in June. The group is also demanding the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisian.

Soon after the gunfire incident, police began rounding up protesters who had remained on Khorenatsi Street, among them women.

A female protester is being arrested on Khorenatsi Street early Wednesday morning in Yerevan

A female protester is being arrested on Khorenatsi Street early Wednesday morning in Yerevan

A similar shootout took place between the police and the “Daredevils” early Tuesday morning at the compound, injuring two members of the group who surrendered and were taken to the hospital.

The Tuesday shooting began when a police SUV driven by one of the armed men unexpectedly emerged from the seized police compound and approached a nearby police barricade prompting security forces to shoot at the assailants, police said in a statement.

“The vehicle almost reached the cordon, after which law-enforcers fired on its engine and tires in order to stop the car and stave off a serious danger emanating from three armed men seated inside it,” said the statement. Two of them were wounded in the leg as a result, it said, according to Azatutyun.am

A screencapture of the vehicle being driven by "Daredevils of Sasoun" early Tuesday morning (azatutyun.am)

A screencapture of the vehicle being driven by “Daredevils of Sasoun” early Tuesday morning (azatutyun.am)

Video of the incident separately circulated by the police shows the car’s visibly wounded driver running back towards the police station. Another gunman can be seen dragging away the second wounded man.

According to the police statement, the two gunmen subsequently gave up themselves before being taken to the nearest hospital in Yerevan. Hospital officials confirmed that the men identified as Ashot Petrosian and Hovannes Harutiunian are undergoing medical treatment there.

The police video shows that the police car carrying the three gunmen had a white flag attached to it.

This incident occurred a few hours after the gunmen set three police vehicles on fire in protest of the authorities’ decision to cut off cell phone service, electricity and food supplies to the compound.

Sefilian Wants to Negotiate with Government
Sefilian, the jailed opposition leader whose release is one of the demands of the armed group that has seized the police compound called on Armenian authorities to begin negotiations with him to end the 10-day standoff.

Sefilian appealed to the authorities the day after his lawyer, Ara Zakarian, said that he is ready to stop demanding Sarkisian’s resignation “for the moment,” reported Azatutyun.am.

“We have a clear political program of peacefully resolving the problem,” Sefilian said in a statement sent to RFE/RL’s Armenian’s service (Azatutyun.am) through Zakarian.

“It is evident that the delay in the launch of a negotiation process is leading to an escalation of the situation, which could result in more clashes, injuries and casualties,” he warned.

Vitaly Balasanyan, a retired Nagorno-Karabakh military leader who was acting as a mediator between the “Daredevils of Sasoun” and the government, signaled on Sunday that Sarkisian would meet with Sefilian if the armed group surrenders and vacates the police compound. This came a day after the group released four hostages through Balasanyan’s mediation

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8 Comments

  1. Harutik said:

    This Western led and financed coup, like the one in Turkey, was a road to no where. Armenians will refuse to repeat the mistake of Ukrainians, Libyans and Syrians. The Artsakh conflict has to end. The Russian brokered negotiations must continue Mutual concessions have to be made. Russia must guarantee regional peace.

    • Sevak said:

      Shut up! Nobody is allowed to back these heroes who fight for their nation despite the nation. Don’t even compare this to georgian or any other coup.

    • Sevak said:

      What are you talking about?! What kind of concession must a winning nation make?!

    • Serop said:

      This is the result of almost 25 years of corrupt rule by the the same group of corrupt and inhuman so called leaders who are sucking dry the nation of every ounce of blood to satisfy their greed.
      The average Armenian is living below poverty, and like most who go to Armenia, spend a few thousand, have a dinner at Parvaneh, eat hot lavash and Xhorovats and then beam with pride and say how wonderful life is you have no idea how the average Armenian suffers
      Look at the average taxi drives who earn 5 dollars a day, who have to sleep in their taxi over night because his village is 50km away
      Our nation is in tyhe hands of criminals who do as they please and its about time they were got rid of

  2. Art Napetian said:

    This unfortunate situation In Armenia shows that Azerbaijan will win the war the next time around.

    • Ararat said:

      Actually I think the opposite is true. I say that because one of the reasons this group took such drastic action was to draw people’s attention to the April events that took place on the front lines as well as demanding transparency from the government officials in their conflict resolution with the artificial gas-station of Azerbaijan. They want the country to mobilize. There is too much secrecy and naturally people are getting nervous not knowing the terms of this conflict resolution with the enemy. Nervous because they refuse to give up an inch of land while not knowing what their government’s position is in all these negotiations. They are being kept in the dark.

      Many of the members of this group “Սասնա Ծռեր” or “Daredevils of Sasun” are former war veterans of the Artsakh liberation war who sacrificed part of their lives to liberate occupied Armenian territories, protect the people and defend the homeland. They lost friends and comrades. They paid a heavy price for all that and they won’t stand aside and let the government decide for the people.

      Their methods may be questionable/debatable but the fact is these are true-blooded Armenian patriots.

  3. zarkim said:

    These police actions seem to be BRUTAL. However, comparing to other countries they are not. In any other country some people would be killed so far. Police actions in Armenia are not brutal. They are necessary. Some police officers (Around 200) have misused their power and should be investigated/removed by SARGSYAN.
    .
    Sassoon have shown initiative for negotiation. Now it is Sargsyan’s turn to do something to defuse the situation.
    .
    Armenian Government should make drastic changes. These changes will happen but will take time. May be Sargsyan and other RICH people like him could chip in and help.
    .
    This Sassoon movement should be remembered in history and be used to fix problems. Government should find a way to end this situation peacefully.
    .
    Sargsyan MUST punish/remove these aggressive police officers or this will not end here. If they kill one SASOON, things will go from bad to worst.

  4. Janapar said:

    With the world focused on Turkey, NATO in the Baltics, terrorists and insane Trump it would be the perfect time for Putin to try something. Russian forces could move in to ‘assist’ Armenia, stopping off in Georgia on the way and re-absorb the Caucasus area in a week. What could Obama or the EU possibly do?

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