BAKU - Security forces in Azerbaijan killed the head of a group it said was linked to al-Qaida and arrested 19 of his followers, in the latest swoop against Islamist militancy in the oil-rich state, the government said on Wednesday.
"An armed group, which was planning ... terrorist attacks aimed to violate political stability in Azerbaijan was neutralized in a special operation, which was conducted in several regions of the country," the National Security Ministry said.
The alleged leader of the group, identified as Azeri citizen Vugar Padarov, was killed during the operation w hen he resisted arrest, th e ministry said, without giving further details. He had supplied members of the group with weapons and explosive devices, it added.
Those arrested had been trained in Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and some had fought against NATO troops in Afghanistan, the ministry said.