YEREVAN—A group calling itself “Daredevils of Sasoun,” which has seized a police compound in Erebubi, released all hostages, a retired army general negotiating with the group said on Saturday.
Armenia’s National Security Service confirmed that all four hostages, two police offices and two high-ranking officers, Vartan Yeghiazaryan and and Valeri Osipyan have been freed, according to Azatutyun.am.
Vitaly Balasanian, a former military commander from Nagorno-Karabakh, who was negotiating with the “Daredevils of Sasoun, said it was also agreed that shortly before Osipian’s and Yeghiazarian’s release Armenian security forces will ensure the presence of journalists at a “neutral zone” around the seized police compound. The journalists will work there “around-the-clock,” he added without elaborating.
A spokesman for the NS) said afterward that the two lower-ranking hostages were freed by noon. “The negotiation process is continuing,” Samson Galtsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I can’t give any other information at this point in the interests of the negotiation process.”
Another source familiar with those negotiations that the agreement on the hostages’ release was reached at a secret meeting between the two leaders of the gunmen and the NSS director, Georgi Kutoyan. The meeting was mediated by Balasanian
Balasanian did not specify whether the authorities are ready to meet the hostage-takers’ key demands: the release from prison of the jailed leader of their Founding Parliament opposition group, Zhirayr Sefilian, and President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation.
Sarkisian on Friday urged the armed oppositionists to lay down their arms and give up themselves, saying that they cannot effect any political change in Armenia through violence.