Thirteen die in Azerbaijan university shooting

1st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The killings shocked the campus of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, considered a leading international institute for training oil industry specialists.

Baku -- Thirteen people were killed Thursday when a gunman burst into a university building in Azerbaijan's capital Baku and went on a shooting rampage before killing himself, police said.

The killings shocked the campus of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, considered a leading international institute for training oil industry specialists.

The ex-Soviet republic's interior ministry said in a statement that the gunman, identified as 29-year-old Farda Gadirov, had entered the building and "shot at everyone he saw" while climbing stairs from the first to sixth floors of the building.

"The police arrived at the scene and when he realised that he could not escape from the building he shot himself," the statement said.

It said he had used a Russian-made semi-automatic Makarov pistol and was carrying three cartridge clips.

A spokesman for the general prosecutor's office, Eldar Sultanov, told journalists at the scene that 13 people had died and 10 been wounded in the attack. He did not specify whether the gunman was counted among the 13 dead.

Founded in 1920, the academy was the first institute of higher learning in Europe and Asia focused on the petroleum industry and is among the most prestigious universities in the former Soviet Union.

Among its most well-known graduates are former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, head of Russian oil company Lukoil Vagit Alekperov and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.

The interior ministry said three foreign citizens -- two Sudanese and one Syrian -- were among the wounded, but provided no details on their conditions.

There were no reports of any foreigners among the victims killed.

The interior ministry said the gunman, Gadirov, was a Georgian citizen. Local news agencies said he was of Azerbaijani origin despite being born in Georgia.

President Ilham Aliyev expressed his "profound condolences over the tragedy" in a statement.

"I express my sympathies to the families and friends of the dead," he said. "During these difficult days we all share in your endless sorrow and wish you patience and restraint. You can be sure that the government of Azerbaijan will take all necessary measures regarding this incident."

Local television and news agencies had earlier reported that two gunmen had been involved, but police made no mention of a second attacker.

Student Abas Aliyev told journalists at the scene that he had caught sight of the gunman moving up the stairs before fleeing the building.

"He was walking up the stairs and shooting whoever he saw," Aliyev said.

Shortly after the incident, numerous ambulances and dozens of police could be seen outside the university and the sidewalk in front of the building was stained with blood, an AFP correspondent said.

Photographs taken inside the university showed a victim lying in a pool of blood after apparently having been shot in the head.

Azerbaijan is an energy-rich, mainly Muslim republic on the western shores of the Caspian Sea.

Since gaining its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country has become a regional hub for oil and gas production and export.

Western companies, in particular Britain's BP, have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the country's oil and gas industries.

Emil Guliyev/AFP/Expatica

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