Azerbaijani officers kill suspect in police slayings

Originally published by RFE/RL

Azerbaijani authorities say police have killed one of the two suspects in the stabbing deaths of two police officers during a protest this week.

Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry said on 13 July that the suspect, Rashad Boyukkishiyev, born in 1988, was killed in a special operation in the northwestern city of Shamkir after he resisted arrest.

The ministry said on July 11 that the other suspect in the police slayings, Farrukh Gasimov, was detained.

Two high-ranking police officers were stabbed to death while they were confronting around 200 demonstrators who had gathered outside the local administration headquarters in the western city of Ganja on 10 July.

Police detained 40 demonstrators and dispersed the protest, which erupted while President Ilham Aliyev was traveling abroad.

Rashad Boyukkishiyev

Rashad Boyukkishiyev

Aliyev's aide, Ali Hasanov, warned afterwards against what he called efforts to "destabilize" the energy-rich nation, saying the perpetrators would face punishment.

"Those who want to provoke confrontation and chaos in Azerbaijan will face the stern face of the law," Hasanov said on Facebook.

Azerbaijani media said the protest was over the arrest of a man accused of attacking Ganja's mayor, Elmar Valiyev, who was shot and hospitalized last week along with his bodyguard.

Authorities allege that the suspected gunman, Yunis Safarov, belonged to a radical Islamist group and was plotting a coup intended to pave the way for the creation of an Islamic state in the mostly Shi'ite Muslim nation that borders Iran.

Azerbaijani authorities, without providing evidence or details, said Safarov is a 35-year-old Russian citizen who got military training in Iran and fought for an extremist group in Syria.

But Emin Milli, the director of Meydan TV, said that Azerbaijanis on social media have proclaimed Safarov a "national hero" in thousands of online comments.

Commenting on Facebook, Milli said that was "probably" because Valiyev "represents this criminal government and was notoriously known for humiliating the citizens that he was supposed to serve."

Milli called the government's charges against Safarov "absurd" and "propaganda" intended to stifle what he described as a potential popular uprising against corruption and authoritarian rule.

The Valiyev incident led to a police crackdown, with another 11 suspects arrested in recent days in connection with the attack and also the unauthorized protests that broke out afterwards.

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