Armenia Says It Prevented Murder Attempt on PM Nikol Pashinyan

Armenia prevented the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the takeover of power by a group of former officials, the National Security Service (NSS) said, Al Jazeera reports.

Pashinyan has been under pressure in recent days, with thousands of protesters demonstrating since Tuesday, demanding a truce that would guarantee territorial gains for Azerbaijan in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh after six weeks of heavy fighting.

In a statement on Saturday, the NSS said that its former head, Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of the Republican Party parliamentary faction, Vahram Baghdasaryan, and the war volunteer, Ashot Minasyan, were under detention.

“The suspects were planning to illegally usurp power by murdering the prime minister and there were already potential candidates being discussed to replace him,” the NSS added.

Pashinyan said earlier this week that he had no choice but to sign a deal struck by Russia to avoid more territorial losses. He said he took personal responsibility for the losses, but declined to call for resignation.

The truce stopped military activity in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave widely recognized as part of Azerbaijan but inhabited by ethnic Armenians.

On Saturday, the Armenian ethnic villagers in Nagorno-Karabakh set fire to their homes before fleeing to Armenia on the eve of a deadline that will see parts of the territory handed over to Azerbaijan as part of the ceasefire deal.

Under the agreement, 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are stationed in the area.

Since the early 1990s, ethnic Armenians had held military control over all of Nagorno-Karabakh and substantial swathes of Azeri territory surrounding it. They have now lost much of the enclave itself as well as the surrounding territory.

Armenia announced on Saturday that 2,317 servicemen were killed in the conflict, which forced thousands to flee their homes. Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military casualties.


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