BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Azerbaijan's police on Wednesday arrested one of the suspects accused of stabbing two senior police officers to death during a clash with protesters in the ex-Soviet nation.
Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry said the search for a second suspects was under way.
The ministry said the two high-ranking police officers were stabbed to death while confronting about 200 demonstrators gathered outside the local administration headquarters in the western city of Ganja, late Tuesday. Police dispersed the protest and detained 40 participants.
The protest in Ganja erupted while President Ilham Aliyev was traveling abroad. His aide, Ali Hasanov, warned that those seeking to destabilize the Caspian Sea nation will face a severe punishment.
"Those who want to provoke confrontation and chaos in Azerbaijan will face the stern face of the law," Hasanov said on Facebook.
Azerbaijani media said the protest was over the arrest of a man accused of attacking Ganja's mayor, Elmar Veliyev. Veliyev and his bodyguard were shot and hospitalized last week.
Authorities alleged the suspected gunman, Yunis Safarov, belonged to a radical Islamist group and was plotting a coup intended to pave way for creating an Islamic state in the mostly Shia Muslim nation bordering Iran to the north. They said Safarov fought in Syria, but wouldn't specify which group he joined there.
Another 11 suspects were arrested in recent days in connection with the attack on Veliyev and for calling unauthorized protests.