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YEREVAN, July 21. /TASS/. Armenian authorities will do their utmost to reach a peaceful outcome to the hostage drama unfolding at the Yerevan police station, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan declared during the opening of Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
"This situation causes extreme concern," the prime minister said. He confirmed that "Armenian authorities are doing the best they can to achieve a peaceful outcome to the situation."
"What happened in the police precinct is inadmissible and should be condemned, since real changes cannot be achieved through violence," Abrahamyan said, describing the developments as "a danger and a dead end."
"On July 17, a gang of armed attackers stormed a police station in Yerevan taking hostages and killing a police colonel," he said. The prime minister also expressed condolences on behalf of the government to the family, friends and colleagues of Colonel Artur Vanoyan killed during the attack.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee (IC) has opened a criminal case over clashes between protesters and police in Yerevan.
"Sixteen participants in clashes were detained," IC said on Thursday adding that IC’s Yerevan department received materials about Wednesday’s clashes in the Armenian capital.
"After scrutinizing the materials, we established that on July 20, around 10:15pm local time, a group of protesters carried out riots in Yerevan that were accompanied by destroying property, using force against officers from the 2nd company of convoy battalion of Yerevan’s police department - as a result of which public safety was threatened," IC added.
During the small hours of July 17, armed extremists riding on a truck, rammed through the gates of a Yerevan police precinct, subsequently storming the premises. In the ensuing shootout, deputy commander of the regiment Colonel Artur Vanoyan was killed, while some of the assailants and some policemen sustained injuries.
In the chaos that followed, the assailants managed to abduct police officers and law enforcement officials who arrived at the scene for negotiations. Among those kidnapped are two senior police officials, Major General Vartan Yegiazaryan, Armenia’s deputy police chief, and Colonel Valery Osipyan, Yerevan’s deputy police chief.
For several days, radical opposition members have been rallying near the police station, demanding that the authorities refrain from carrying out a military operation to free the hostages and neutralize the armed group.