By Ruzanna Stepanian
Thousands of civil servants were briefly evacuated from a government building in downtown Yerevan on Tuesday after what turned out to be a false bomb alert.
Special units of the Armenian police and the National Security Service searched the nine-story building, which houses several government ministries, with sniffer dogs and special equipment. They found no explosive devices there, allowing the ministry employees to return to their workplaces. Rescue workers also arrived at the scene, ready to step in if necessary.
“Nothing was found there,” Colonel Artur Minasian, commander of a police squad involved in the search, told RFE/RL. “It was a false alert.”
Officials said the evacuation was ordered immediately after Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian received a letter from a man who claimed to have planted a bomb in the building. They said he specified his name and Yerevan address.
The man, identified as Aramayis Chakunts, was arrested by the police later in the day. According to Deputy Health Minister Hayk Darpinian, Chakunts is in his 70s and has a history of mental illness, having been registered with a psychiatric clinic in his native Syunik region in the past.
“They will now take him to a police station and then send to an appropriate place for treatment,” said Darpinian.