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YEREVAN, July 25 /TASS/. Armenian police have detained the accomplices of gunmen who have been holding a Yerevan police precinct hostage for eight days and are still refusing to surrender, Armenia’s National Security Service said on Monday.
At dawn, on July 17, about 30 armed attackers connected to Armenia’s radical opposition rammed into the gates of a Yerevan police station driving a Kraz dump truck and opened fire. In the ensuing shootout, a deputy squad commander was killed, with some policemen and attackers suffering injuries. In the chaos that followed, the assailants managed to abduct on-duty cops and top police brass who arrived at the scene for negotiations. Among those taken hostage are two senior police officials, Major General Vartan Yegiazaryan, Armenia’s deputy police chief, and Colonel Valery Osipyan, Yerevan’s deputy police chief.
"More co-conspirators have been arrested as part of a criminal investigation into the police station’s seizure. Another (criminal) group that helped the gunmen, has been detained," Armenia’s National Security Service said.
According to the latest reports, the gunmen that hijacked the truck had threatened to kill the vehicle’s owner and his family. Having carjacked the truck, they used it to storm the police station. "Some assailants prodded their accomplices outside to hurl Molotov cocktails in order to break the encirclement and snatch weapons from the police squad," the National Security Service said.
"Other individuals who were genuinely intent on helping this lawless gang are currently in police custody. Law enforcement officials are employing all possible tactics, legal ones included, to quash and prevent any further criminal activity," Armenia’s National Security Service stressed.
The National Security Service still believes it is possible to end the hostage standoff through dialogue and negotiations. "It has called on the armed extremists to immediately cease their lawlessness and violence, which endanger peoples’ lives and well-being and threats against property. They should voluntarily lay down arms and surrender to the authorities without resistance. There is little time left to do that but there still is time," the Armenian National Security Service said.