YEREVAN — Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) detained on Thursday two more people, on suspicion of being part of an organized group that plotted to kill senior Armenian officials and carry out other terrorist attacks in the country.
An NSS statement said Garnik Margaryan, head of a minor party called “Homeland and Honor’ and Vladimir Arakelyan, the main shareholder of a sports shoe factory in the town of Yeghvard, were held on suspicion of being involved in the alleged plot. They are specifically suspected of having helped the group acquire weapons and ammunition, according to the statement.
The NSS and the Armenian police arrested ten people when they raided a house in Yerevan and found a weapons cache there in late November. At least 12 more people were arrested in the following weeks. One of them, former Deputy Defense Minister Vahan Shirkhanian, is a veteran politician who had held senior security posts in Armenia’s government in the 1990s.
The group in question is led by Artur Vartanian, a 34-year-old Armenian national who reportedly lived in Spain from 1997 until his return to Armenia last April. It announced its existence on social media in early 2015 with a video purportedly shot in Kassab, an Armenian-populated town in northern Syria that was overrun by Islamist rebels in March 2014.