THE MINISTRY OF National security in Azerbaijan has revealed that an armed group was planning to carry out acts of terror in Baku on the eve of the Eurovision 2012 song contest.
In a statement released yesterday, the Ministry said that the “transnational criminal armed group” wanted to cause heavy human losses but its plans were thwarted by “intensive security measures”.
They said that members of the gang were targeting hotels such as the Hilton and JW Marriot in Baku which were mainly populated by foreigners, as well as the Baku Crystal Hall where the Eurovision song contest was held.
Two large-scale special operations in Baku and other cities yesterday and on 16 May saw 40 people arrested and a number of weapons, ammunition and explosives seized. Toy cars with explosive substances, 13 submachine guns, hand grenades and detonators were among the items confiscated.
Two of the suspects were killed during the operations after opening fire on security forces. Two officers were also wounded, according to the government.
Security services said the types of explosives found could have been used in crowded places with devastating effect.
In recent months, Azerbaijan has said that is has been the target of terrorist activities planned by groups with ties to Al Qaeda and Iran. The statement yesterday also included details of other planned attacks, most notably an assassination attempt on President Ilham Aliyev in April. It also detailed planned attacks on law-enforcement organisations, administrative buildings, prayer houses, mosques and other religious places.