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Armenia Confirms Six Dead In 'Army Shooting'


YEREVAN -- Armenia's Defense Ministry has confirmed that one officer and five soldiers died in an incident earlier this week, following reports of a shooting spree at one of its army units, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a short statement, the ministry identified all six victims but gave no other details of the July 28 incident. The statement said only that it was the result of "a blatant violation of the rules of combat duty."

Other sources said the shooting took place at an army unit in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. One victim's uncle, Khachik Sarkisian, told RFE/RL that his nephew served there.

"[Andranik Sargsian] was killed by three bullets," Sarkisian said by phone. "There are no traces of [other] physical violence on his body."

Artur Sakunts, a prominent human rights campaigner, said a soldier at the unit had gone on a shooting spree before turning the gun on himself.

Sakunts said the soldier is believed to have opened fire after witnessing the bullying of a fellow conscript caught asleep at his post.

The incident comes after another army officer was found shot dead on Armenia's border with Azerbaijan earlier this week. The Defense Ministry said that Lieutenant Artak Nazarian, 30, most probably committed suicide. Nazarian's relatives strongly denied that, saying that he was murdered by fellow servicemen.

The state human rights ombudsman, Armen Harutiunian, today expressed serious concern about both incidents, highlighting lingering abuse and other serious problems within the military.

In a written statement, Harutiunian said they "complement a spate of murders committed at various army detachments" and will have "a negative influence on the army's combat-readiness and the moral-psychological state of the society."