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Exploding hydrogen balloons at Armenian political rally injure many

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YEREVAN — More than 140 people were injured on Friday when gas-filled balloons exploded at a governing party campaign concert in the Armenian capital ahead of parliamentary polls on Sunday, officials said.

The emergencies ministry said 144 people suffered burns when scores of promotional balloons burst into flames at a concert staged by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican party in Yerevan’s central Republic Square.

Armenian Internet sites showed a fireball rising into the air and chaotic images of people screaming in confusion and anger.

“The balloons exploded and caught fire after people holding the bunches released them from their hands into the air,” a witness told AFP.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions although police said they were looking into various potential reasons including the “improper storage of flammable substances”.

“All the victims had either medium or light injuries. Now doctors are trying to revive them from shock,” Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian told reporters.

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The promotional balloons were decorated with the governing party’s election slogan “Let’s believe in change”.

The incident marred a largely calm election campaign and President Sarkisian promised a full investigation.

“I urge everyone to keep calm. Let us pray for all the victims and wish them a quick recovery,” he said in a statement.

Sarkisian’s party has been tipped by opinion polls to triumph in Sunday’s election ahead of its ruling coalition rival, the Prosperous Armenia party led by a wealthy former arm wrestling champion.

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The vote is the biggest test of the ex-Soviet state’s democratic credentials since disputed presidential elections in 2008, when mass rallies ended in bloody clashes between riot police and opposition supporters that left 10 people dead, casting a shadow over Sarkisian’s administration.

The authorities in the mountainous country of 3.3 million people have promised an unprecedentedly clean contest for the 131-seat National Assembly in the hope of avoiding further political turmoil.

Opposition parties however have questioned the validity of the opinion polls and threatened demonstrations if there are mass falsifications.

Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.

Photo PANARMENIAN, Tigran Mehrabyan via AFP

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‘We have been under siege’: Trump falsely claims he has been ‘violently’ attacked by his critics

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President Donald Trump claimed to be the victim of "violence" during his official campaign kickoff in Orlando, Florida.

"Many times I said we would drain the swamp and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. We are draining the swamp," Trump claimed, despite having the most scandal-plagued administration in American history.

"And that is why the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently," Trump argued.

"For the last two and a half years we have been under siege and with the Mueller report we want and now they want a do-over. They want a do-over," he repeated.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied ‘proudly and with impunity’ because she was raised to be ‘impervious to reason’: WH reporter

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Outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was blasted by a White House correspondent for her brazen lying from the White House podium.

"Sarah Sanders is a true believer. Conditioned by an upbringing rooted in Christian rhetoric that's impervious to reason, she views the world through a lens in which everything exists in absolutes," Playboy magazine White House correspondent Brian Karem wrote.

Her father, Mike Huckabee, is an Evangelical pastor who served as the Republican governor of Arkansas prior to unsuccessful presidential bids.

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Nancy Pelosi says White House attempt to block Hope Hicks testimony is ‘obstruction of justice’

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Nancy Pelosi clap

President Donald Trump's White House is committing obstruction of justice by claiming Hope Hicks has "immunity" from testifying before Congress about her time in the administration and even transition.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked about the administration's contention by CNN congressional reporter Manu Raju.

Pelosi replied that it was, "obstruction of justice."

The answer could be important as Congressional precedence says that obstruction of justice is a high crime or misdemeanor worthy of impeachment.

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