Armenian militant headquarters seized

Published Sept. 2, 1990|Updated Oct. 17, 2005

An unidentified armed group has occupied the former headquarters of the main Armenian nationalist paramilitary organization, seized by troops two days ago, a spokesman said Saturday. The building, raided by Interior Ministry forces Thursday, had been left unguarded after its occupants surrendered and a large quantity of weapons were confiscated, said Ovanez Muradyan of the ruling Armenian National Movement.

A group of 20 to 30 young people, armed with hunting rifles, broke in Friday morning and were refusing to leave, Muradyan told Reuters by telephone from the republic's capital, Yerevan. "Either they are lunatics or they are adventurous," he said.

The building is now surrounded by special police units and paramilitaries loyal to the republican parliament.

The Armenian government said Friday it had crushed the building's previous occupants, the Armenian National Army, but feared further resistance from smaller splinter groups.

Most of the militants are in mountains near the border with Azerbaijan and have shown reluctance to comply with efforts by the Soviet government to make them surrender their arms.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has set a deadline of Oct. 9 for them to disarm and disband.