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Exploding Balloons Injure 144 at Election Rally in Armenia


Gas-filled balloons explode during a campaign rally concert in the central Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia, May 4, 2012.

Gas-filled balloons explode during a campaign rally concert in the central Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia, May 4, 2012.

Officials in Armenia say at least 144 people were injured Friday when gas-filled balloons exploded at an election campaign concert in the Armenian capital Yerevan.

Most of the people suffered burns when many promotional balloons burst into flames at a concert staged by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia in Yerevan's central Republic Square.

Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian told reporters no one's life is in danger.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosions, but some reports say it could have been caused by a cigarette lit too closely to the balloons.

The incident marred a largely calm election campaign.

President Serzh Sarkisyan promised a full investigation.

Tens of thousands have gathered in Yerevan ahead of Sunday's parliamentary election, which is largely seen as a test of democracy for President Sarkisyan, the winner of the disputed 2008 election.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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