Armenian security forces on July 31 stormed a police station that had been seized by opposition militants in the capital Yerevan, amid growing protests in the city. Authorities said some 20 militants were arrested and several injured. Gunmen calling themselves the Daredevils of Sassoun seized the police station and took hostages on July 17, and protesters subsequently took to the streets in their support. Security forces have responded with stun grenades and tear-gas leaving scores injured. Militants and protesters alike are demanding release of Jirair Sefilian, leader of the opposition Founding Parliament movement.
Sefilian, a veteran of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, was imprisoned June 20 after demanding the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisian. The Daredevils of Sassoun are made up of former military men who accuse the government of mishandling the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenia lost territory in recent fighting with Azerbaijani forces before a Moscow-brokered ceasefire. Local rights groups in Yerevan report an atmosphere of harsh repression, with police storming the homes of perceived sympathizers of the opposition movement, making arbitrary raids and arrests (Sputnik, Aug. 1; Nancy Kricorian blog, July 31; Ianyan, Al Jazeera, July 30; Armenian Weekly, July 25)