Two high-ranking police officers were stabbed to death in Azerbaijan’s western city of Ganja on July 10. The officers were confronting demonstrators who had gathered outside the local administration headquarters while the incident took place. Then, Police detained 40 demonstrators and dispersed the protest.
On July 11, Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry said that on July 11 that it had detained a first suspect, Farux Qasimov. Another suspect, Rasad Boyukkisiyev, was killed in a special operation in the northwestern city of Shamkir after he had allegedly resisted the arrest, the interior ministry said on July 13. Separately, 9 more people were arrested because of links to the riots in Ganja.
HINT: Ganja is the second largest city of Azerbaijan. Its population is about 750,400. The city is mostly populated by Shia Muslims.
Following the demonstrations, authorities deployed additional units of police and special forces in the city and increased security measures in the area.
Earlier, on July 3, Valiyev, and his bodyguard were injured in an apparent attempt to kill the mayor of Ganja, Elmar Valiyev. The attacker, Unus Safarov was deatined on the site. Besides Safarov, 11 other people were detained over the alleged links to the attack.
Azerbaijani authorities claimed that Safarov is a 35-year-old Russian citizen who got military training in Iran and fought for some “extremist group” in Syria. However, no details were provided. The government also accused some “foreign powers” of attempting to undermine the stability in the country.
However, the opposition has a very differnt version. Emin Milli, a leading opposition figure and the director of Meydan TV, said that people on social media have proclaimed Safarov a “national hero” in thousands of online comments.
Milli wrote in Facebook that the incident “probably” took place because Valiyev “represents this criminal government and was notoriously known for humiliating the citizens that he was supposed to serve.” The opposition figure descrbed the government’s charges against Safarov “absurd” and “propaganda”, which are aimed at undermining a potential popular uprising against corruption and authoritarian rule.
Unauthorized demonstrations on July 10 took place in support of Safarov. The Azerbaijani media described demonstrators as criminal elements and religious radicals.