30 Arrested After Riots in Armenia

YEREVAN, Armenia -- Armenian police have arrested 30 opposition activists for starting a riot in which eight people were killed, prosecutors said Tuesday, in a clampdown on opponents during a state of emergency.

The opposition has accused the government of rigging last month's presidential election and vowed to press ahead with protests once the emergency laws are lifted. The government has refused to negotiate.

"Thirty people have been detained for provoking mass disturbances on March 1, not obeying the police and violent actions against policemen," the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan officially won 53 percent of the ballot on Feb. 19, while his main rival, former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, got 21.5 percent.

Robert Kocharyan, the outgoing president and Sargsyan's ally, ordered the army onto the streets and imposed emergency laws during riots Saturday -- the worst civil violence since Armenia gained independence in 1991.

Police arrested a handful of prominent opposition figures -- for purportedly plotting a coup or hoarding firearms -- during daily mass demonstrations in the capital, Yerevan. Soldiers continue to patrol Yerevan's streets, and armored personnel carriers stand in the main square, imposing the military's control and ready to counter any demonstrators.

"The situation in Yerevan is fully under control," General Seyran Ohanyan, the head of Armenia's General Staff, said at a news conference in Yerevan. "If needed we'll help police to guarantee public order."

n Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Tuesday that his country was ready to take back breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh by force if necessary and was buying military equipment and arms in preparation. Aliyev linked his comments to Kosovo's newly declared independence, which he said had emboldened ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Earlier Tuesday, two Azeri soldiers died in an exchange of fire near Nagorno-Karabakh's border. Sargsyan blamed Azeri soldiers for attacking Armenian forces, but said he hoped for a peaceful solution to the standoff.