Azerbaijan arrests Iran-backed attack plotters
Baku: Azerbaijan has arrested 22 people on
suspicion of plotting attacks on the US and Israeli embassies
in Baku on behalf of neighbouring Iran, the national security
ministry said on Wednesday.
"Twenty-two citizens of Azerbaijan have been arrested
by the national security ministry for cooperating with the
Iranian Sepah," its statement said, referring to the elite
Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
"On orders of the Sepah they were to commit terrorist
acts against the US, Israeli and other Western states`
embassies and the embassies` employees," it said.
The ministry said that the suspects were recruited
from 1999 onwards and trained in the use of weapons and spy
techniques at military camps in Iran to enable them to gather
information on foreign embassies, organisations and companies
in Azerbaijan and stage attacks.
"Firearms, cartridges, explosives and espionage
equipment were found during the arrest," the statement said,
without specifying when or how the arrests were made.
Tensions between the Islamic republic and mainly
Muslim but officially secular Azerbaijan have risen in recent
months, with a series of arrests in Baku of attack plot
suspects with alleged links to Tehran.
Iran has also been angered by ex-Soviet Azerbaijan`s
ties to Israel and its reported purchase of hundreds of
millions of dollars of weapons from the Jewish state.
This week however the neighbours appeared to be taking
steps to improve relations as public declarations of
friendship were made in Tehran during a visit by Azerbaijan`s
Defence Minister Safar Abiyev.
"We are sure that we will face no problem from our
brother and neighbour Azerbaijan," Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as
saying on Monday after meeting Abiyev.