Police in Armenia used force on Monday to neutralize a man who burst into a kindergarten and took one of its children hostage.
The hostage, a 3-year-old boy, was freed after a five-hour standoff between the man armed with a knife and police officers that surrounded the kindergarten in Armavir, a town 40 kilometers west of Yerevan.
A spokesman for the Armenian police, Ashot Aharonian, said the officers freed the child before using “special means” against the hostage taker. The operation was personally led by General Hunan Poghosian, the deputy chief of the national police service.
An RFE/RL correspondent standing near the kindergarten building heard what sounded like gunshots shortly before Aharonian’s announcement.
The police said later in the day that the attacker then tried to “harm himself” and was taken to a local hospital as a result. The hospital director, Sargis Khachatrian, told reporters afterwards that he stabbed himself in the chest and is now undergoing surgery. He confirmed that the child was not hurt by the “middle-aged” man.
Also hospitalized was a woman described by Khachatrian as the hostage-taker’s former wife. He said she suffered stab wounds to her neck, chest and hands and will have to be transferred to a hospital in Yerevan.
In a late-night statement, Armenia’s Investigative Committee said the man, who was still not identified, took the hostage to demand an urgent meeting with his ex-wife working in the Armavir kindergarten. The law-enforcement agency gave no other details.