Demonstrators who had gathered in a show of support for gunmen holding several hostages in a police station, clash with riot police in Yerevan, Armenia, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure(reuters_tickers)
YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armed men holding nine policemen hostage in Armenia's capital Yerevan for almost a week released all four remaining captives on Saturday, a mediator between the gunmen and the security service said.
The gunmen seized a police station last Sunday in a bid to have a jailed opposition leader released, killing a police officer and wounding two others. They released two of the hostages on the same day and three more on Monday.
After negotiations with security forces, the attackers freed two more police officers on Saturday.
The last two hostages, Yerevan's deputy police chief Valery Osipyan and national deputy police chief Vardan Yeghiazaryan, were also released later, mediator Vitaly Balasanyan told local TV channel Shant.
A spokesman for Armenia's security service confirmed this.
The release became possible after the authorities agreed to set up a makeshift press centre "in a neutral area" near the seized police station, a demand put forward by the gunmen who had sought access to mass media.
The number of the armed people remaining at the police station is unclear.
The hostage-takers' main demand was the release of Jirair Sefilian, an opposition leader accused by the authorities in the ex-Soviet state of plotting civil unrest. Sefilian was jailed in June over allegations of illegally possessing weapons.
Sefilian, a former military commander, has accused Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan of mishandling a long-running conflict between Armenian-backed separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and Azeri forces.
A Moscow-brokered ceasefire halted four days of violence in the South Caucasus region in April, the worst flare-up in years, but sporadic shooting persists at night and some deaths have been reported.
Nagorno-Karabakh's defence ministry said on Saturday that one of their soldiers was wounded as a result of shooting last night. Azeri officials were not available for comments.
(Reporting by Hasmik Mrktchyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Tom Heneghan)