9 killed in protest over election results in Armenia

The Kassandra Project

(CNN) — The violent clashes between police and protesters over alleged election fraud in Armenia have killed at least nine people and injured 17 police officers, a government official told CNN Sunday.

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Opposition supporters wave an Armenian flag during a protest rally in Yerevan, Armenia, on Saturday.

Among the dead was one police officer and eight civilians, the official said. Sixteen officers were hospitalized with bullet wounds. A 17th officer was in critical condition.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian declared a state of emergency Saturday night after a day of clashes between police and protesters, a spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.

The protesters claim last month’s presidential election was rigged.

The state of emergency will “hopefully bring some order” to the capital, Yerevan, said Salpi Ghazarian, assistant to the Armenian foreign minister, who spoke to CNN early Sunday.

The state of emergency could last until March 20, she said, but the government hopes “that it will be lifted sooner.”

The clashes began when authorities used force to clear Freedom Square of thousands of demonstrators who had camped there for the past 10 days, according to a U.S. Embassy official.

Ghazarian said the authorities “moved in” because “they thought that there were arms there, and it turned out that they were right.” Video Watch a report on clashes between police and the opposition »

The embassy official estimated that the demonstrations in Freedom Square grew to as many as 60,000 Armenians at times over the last 10 days.

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