One suspect dead, eight arrested in connection with events in Ganja

Anar Baghirov

Eight people have been arrested and one killed as part of a police operation connected with the recent violence in Ganja.

Anar Baghirov was killed in the Binagadi region of Azerbaijan in a shootout with the State Security Service, according to a joint statement by the Prosecutor General's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the State Security Service, released on 21 July. Baghirov is described as the member of a radical religious group and close to Yunis Safarov.

On 3 July, the mayor of Ganja, Elmar Valiyev, and his bodyguard were shot in the city center. Yunis Safarov was arrested at the scene and remains in police custody, accused of attempting to assassinate Valiyev as part of a wider plot to overthrow the Azerbaijani government and institute shariah law.

A week later two policemen were killed in Ganja during a demonstration.

Dozens of people have since been arrested, all alleged to be part of a radical Islamic group which authorities say is behind the attacks.

Many observers have questioned the official version of events, connecting the attacks instead to widespread dissatisfaction with Elmar Valiyev and his actions as mayor of Azerbaijan's second largest city.