Opposition gunmen occupying a police compound in Yerevan have released one of the four medics taken hostage by them, the Armenian Ministry of Health said late on Wednesday.
A ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the paramedic, Davit Tonoyan, was allowed leave the compound more than 12 hours after he and three other members of an ambulance crew entered it to help some gunmen wounded by security forces.
The Armenian police and Health Ministry said the gunmen affiliated with Founding Parliament, a radical opposition group, took the medical personnel hostage. They demanded the immediate release of the medics.
A Founding Parliament representative insisted afterwards that they must not be seen as hostages despite not being allowed to leave the compound in the city’s Erebuni district.
One of the two doctors kept there, Salvador Khechoyan, was allowed to speak to the Armenia TV channel by phone before Tonoyan’s release. Khechoyan confirmed that he and his colleagues, including another male doctor and a female nurse, are being held hostage.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) also demanded the medics’ release in a statement released in the evening. It further reiterated that the gunmen must lay down their arm and give up themselves.
“There is still a chance [for a peaceful surrender,] but time is running out,” the NSS said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, a military helicopter dropped NSS leaflets on the seized compound. The leaflets warned the gunmen that security forces will shoot at them if they fire gunshots or leave the police premises for purposes other than surrender.