Gunmen release police officers held as hostages in Armenian capital

YEREVAN, Armenia, July 23 (UPI) — The National Security Service of Armenia confirmed the final four police officers who had been held hostage in a police station in the capital city of Yerevan were released on Saturday.

According to Armenpress, Deputy Police Chief of Armenia Vardan Yeghiazaryan and Deputy Chief of Police of Yevean Valery were released in addition to two younger police officers, who were released earlier in the day.

“Armenia’s deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Vardan Egiazaryan and Yerevan’s deputy police chief Col. Valeri Osipyan,who were the last two hostages held captive, were released from the building of the patrol police station,” National Security Service spokesman Samson Galstyan said, according to Sputnik News.

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty reported that senior military officer Vitaly Balasanyan had acted as a negotiator and said the last two officers were released in exchange fro granting the gunmen an opportunity to speak to the press.

While the gunmen maintain control of the police station, the release of the four officers marked the end of the hostage situation which began on July 17 when gunmen seized the police station and killed Col. Artur Vanoyan, seeking the release of Zhirayr Sefilian.

Nearly 3,000 protestors gathered around the police station on Friday, supporting the gunmen’s attempt to free Sefilian and force President Serzh Sarkisian to resign.

The leader of the radical opposition movement Founding Parliament, Sefilian, was arrested on June 20 along with six supporters, as authorities said they were plotting to seize several government buildings and telecommunication facilities in Yerevan.

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