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By Emil Danielyan
More than 250 people were killed and about 1,300 others injured in road accidents across Armenia last year, according to police statistics publicized on Wednesday.

The official figures show a slight increase from the overall number of accidents reported by the police in 2002. The death toll from them saw a more serious rise, with the number of fatalities up almost 7 percent.

In a report submitted to the Armenian government, the national Police Service said about half of the 1,025 car crashes and similar incidents were particularly serious and involved “criminal liability.” But the report does not specify how many drivers were actually charged with manslaughter or negligence.

“One of the main causes of the increase in the number of road accidents is a considerable growth in the intensity of traffic,” it says.

According to preliminary data from the State Customs Committee, more than 13,000 cars were imported to Armenia in 2003, nearly twice as many as in 2002. The increase, evidenced by heavier traffic in Yerevan and other parts of the country, is even higher compared to the previous years. Government officials present it as the result of economic growth and a sign of improved living standards.
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