Soldier Arrested over Karabagh Army Shootout

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Military authorities in Yerevan reported on Monday the first arrest in the ongoing criminal investigation into the latest shooting in the Nagorno-Karabagh army ranks that left four soldiers dead and four others injured.
The Armenian Defense Ministry also said two other men have been arrested in connection with the killing of a soldier at a military base in northeastern Armenia.

According to official reports, the shooting spree occurred on Friday night at an army unit deployed southeast of the disputed territory. The Karabagh military identified the dead and wounded soldiers but gave no details of the extraordinary incident, saying only it was not caused by enemy fire.

An official at the Armenian Defense Ministry’s Investigative Department said that one of the soldiers of the unit has been arrested on suspicion of shooting fellow conscripts.

The official said his identity will not be disclosed for now “in the interests of the investigation.”
It is thus not yet clear whether the suspect is one of the four soldiers who were wounded in the shootout and are now treated at a military hospital in Stepanakert. Military authorities there did not allow journalists to interview them on Monday.

The shootings occurred about four months after a similar incident reported from another Karabagh frontline detachment. One officer and five soldiers were killed as a result.

Military investigators say one of those servicemen gunned down the others before taking his own life. It is still not clear what might have caused him to do that. Several Karabagh Armenian officers were dismissed and demoted following the incident.

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According to the Investigative Department, two other men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering an army sergeant who served at Armenia’s Chambarak district bordering Azerbaijan. The conscript, Robert Avetisian, was found dead at his military base early on Thursday.

The department refused to identify the suspects or specify whether they too are soldiers serving in that unit.
The latest shootings are a serious blow to Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian’s repeated assurances that the Armenian military has stepped up its fight against hazing and other abuses within its ranks. The military has been under fire over a recent spate of non-combat deaths and other violent incidents.

Dozens of officers and soldiers have been arrested or fired in connection with those cases since August.