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Azerbaijani authorities detain 16 people on suspicion of plotting to overthrow government - UPDATED

18 January 2007 [14:20] - TODAY.AZ
Azerbajani authorities have detained 16 people on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government, security officials said Thursday.

The detainees, who were apprehended several days ago, are accused of preparing a coup to overthrow President Ilham Ali?ev, said Arif Babayev, spokesman for the National Security Ministry. They have also been accused of treason, organizing a criminal group, illegal weapons and drugs possession and printing counterfeit money, Babayev said.

In 2005, authorities arrested 12 government officials on charges of plotting a coup before parliamentary elections in November that year. The opposition says the arrests were part of an effort by the government to manipulate the vote.

Babayev insisted the two alleged criminal groups were not related to each other. The Associated Press

/The International Herald Tribune/



For the second time in 18 months, the secret service in the oil-rich republic of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea has foiled an alleged coup plot.

A total of 13 people were arrested for treason, illegal possession of weapons and forming a criminal association, Interfax news agency reported Wednesday, citing a source within the secret service.

Further details were not immediately known.

In October 2005, the country's President Ilham Aliyev sacked several ministers for plotting a coup.

Public anger has been growing in the former Soviet republic since significant price rises in electricity, petrol and gas at the beginning of the year.

The united opposition has called for protest demonstrations in the capital Baku at the end of the month. DPA



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