Opposition Party Storms Police Station, Takes Hostages In Armenia

Did the coup attempt in Turkey inspire Armenian rebels?


As Turkey struggles to break free of the unrest it has been gripped in since the failed military coup, its neighbors seem to be faring no better.

Armenia also had a brush with militant elements trying to force their writ on the state. On Sunday, armed men stormed into a police station in the capital city of Yerevan and took several hostages.

The motive was clear: free opposition leader Jirair Sefilian, who is jailed for possession of weapons and accusations of stoking civil unrest. These men wanted to inspire a Turkey-styled coup, as they urged their countrymen to take to the streets.

Armenia, Jirair Sefilian

"Dear compatriots. It has started. We ask everyone to take to the streets," one of the men said in the video uploaded by the armed group. "Our demand is to set free all political prisoners ... and for them to be brought here."

The men can be seen wearing bullet proof waists and toting assault rifles.

However, the call to action did not spiral into significant civil unrest. For starters, the captors are aligned with the Founding Parliament party, which does not enjoy overwhelming support in Armenia.

Security forces in the country maintain that two hostages have been freed, while news agencies report that seven or eight remain prisoners. Negotiations are underway to free the rest.

One police officer was killed.

Since the ill-fated attempt at a coup, many Armenians reported that Facebook had also stopped working in the country.

Many wondered if this was a last-ditch attempt by the government to quell anti-state elements, who it alleged were spreading misinformation.

The website was later restored.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Stringer

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