YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Karabakh army and military police declared a state of alert Thursday and began searching all vehicles entering Yerevan. According to a Defense Ministry spokesman–three soldiers deserted from their Army unit in Karabakh yesterday. The soldiers fled through the Omar mountains and reached to Kelbajar. The army spokesman’said they were armed.
The deserters stopped a GAS-24 Russian sedan car–killed two passengers in the car and hijacked the car–setting off towards Armenia. Police tried to stop them at a police check points but without success. When the police tried to chase them–the deserters killed two of them in a shoot-out. The deserters tried to bury the dead policemen–but were interrupted by a car approaching from the opposite direction–and shot the two passengers dead. One of the passengers was the commander of the Aparan Army battalion–which is stationed in Aragatsotn region of Armenia.
One of the deserters was injured in the shoot-out. His two comrades abandoned him and fled to the forests. According to the Military Prosecutor’s office–the injured soldier is now in hospital. The Army spokesman’said that the two others are now hiding in the forest and it is very difficult to disarm and arrest them because they left their army unit heavily armed.
The incident didn’t prevent the Military commanders of the Armenian Army meeting with servicemen’s parents. The purpose of the meeting was to give parents a chance to express their concerns. The meeting in the Armenian Officers’ House in Yerevan heard mothers’ complaints about the health of their sons. "We are sending healthy boys to the Army–but they come home sick and weakened," one woman’said. "My son is in hospital now. Please–be attentive to the health of the soldiers," another woman’said.
But there were also good words for the army. Some of the mothers praised Army commanders for their work–requesting instead leave for their sons.
The commanders gathered today in the Yerevan Officers House generously granted short periods of leave to those soldiers whose mothers gave high marks to their performance.