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Armenia: President Declares Three Days Of Mourning

Yerevan, 29 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - Flags are flying at half-staff across Armenia today in mourning for Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkissian, the speaker of parliament, and six other politicians murdered by gunmen in an attack on parliament Wednesday. The gunmen took dozens of hostages and spent the night negotiating directly with President Robert Kocharian. They freed the hostages and surrendered to authorities yesterday morning after being promised a fair trial. The gunmen said the attack was necessary to stop the destruction of Armenia. Kocharian has declared a three-day mourning period starting today. Funerals for those killed in the attack are set for Sunday. Armenia's army is demanding the dismissal of key security officials for allowing the attack. In a statement, the Defense Ministry said the attack was a plot aimed at Armenia's statehood and against the future of the nation. But the statement reiterated the military's support for Kocharian in ensuring law and order.