Eight Dead In Armenia Unrest


ITN News
March 2 2008

Eight people have been killed and 33 police injured in riots in the
Armenian capital.

The worst unrest in the central Asian former Soviet republic for
a decade was sparked by protests against a presidential election
opposition groups say was rigged.

Police fought pitched battles with opposition supporters who have been
protesting since prime minister Serzh Sarksyan was elected president.

Crowds began to thin after the army was mobilised, but a group of about
2,000 protesters stayed on in a square in the centre of Yerevan armed
with metal rods and Molotov cocktails as army trucks headed towards
the capital.

They dispersed after a message was read out from Levon Ter-Petrosyan,
a former president who was defeated in the election, saying: "I do
not want any victims and clashes between police and innocent people."

Outgoing president Robert Kocharyan declared a state of emergency
banning demonstrations and imposing censoreship.

He accused demonstrators of firing weapons and grenades and planning a
coup d’etat. The opposition rejected this, saying police had attacked
a peaceful protest.

Sarksyan’s opponents accuse him of winning last month’s poll by
ballot-rigging and intimidation but he denies this and Western
observers said the vote was broadly fair.

The violence was the worst in the country of 3.2 million since 1998,
when a mass uprising forced Ter-Petrosyan to resign.

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