Two Azerbaijani police officers and four members of an alleged radical Islamist group have died in a standoff in the village of Nardaran, 25km from Baku. The incident took place after members of a group called Movement for Muslim Unity resisted police arrest and attacked the officers with "a grenade and automatic fire", according to a statement by the Interior Ministry on November 26.
A total of 14 people, including Taleh Bagirzade, the group's leader, were arrested. The raid on the group was reportedly part of an investigation into the group's plans to stage "provocations, mass unrest and acts of terror in order to disrupt the socio-political stability in the country". The ministry said that the group was seeking to establish a sharia state in Azerbaijan.
The Baku-based Directorate of Muslims of the Caucasus condemned the events in Nardaran as a threat to Azerbaijan's statehood. "We assess these event as an attempt to sow discord in society and seizure of power with force organised by external and internal forces with certain political ends," it said in a statement.
Earlier in November, the Movement for Muslim Unity had organised a protest near Baku against the arrest of another group leader, Elchin Gasymov. On that occasion, the police made a few arrests, but then released the protesters.
Azerbaijan is run by strongman President Ilham Aliyev, and authorities have no tolerance for dissent. Authorities regularly fabricate charges against individuals who they deem to be dangerous to the regime.