Azerbaijan reassures foreigners after US terror warning

31st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Azerbaijan said on Monday that it is taking measures to prevent security threats after the US State Department warned of possible terror attacks on Western targets in the ex-Soviet republic.

"All necessary measures are being taken in the country to prevent threats to national security and the country's interests," a spokesman for the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry said in a statement.

The US State Department issued a security alert on Saturday about potential violence in the mainly Muslim republic which has become an important Western ally due to its large reserves of oil and gas.

"The State Department, based on terrorist threat information, alerts US citizens of the potential for attacks in Azerbaijan, including against American interests," the statement said.

It warned US citizens to "remain vigilant, particularly in public places associated with the Western community".

The British company BP has a significant role in pipelines taking Azerbaijani energy supplies to Europe, and the British embassy in Baku updated the travel advisory on its website after the State Department's warning.

"We are aware of US reporting of the potential for attacks in Azerbaijan, including against American interests," the travel advisory said.

"British nationals in Azerbaijan are advised to exercise vigilance at all times."

Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry said that police were working to ensure the safety of all foreign embassies and diplomatic staff.

"The operational situation is now under control," a statement said.

After decades of Soviet rule, Azerbaijan emerged as one of the most secular countries in the Muslim world, and the authorities have imposed restrictions on worship and detained radicals in an attempt to prevent the rise of extremism.

In 2009, two Lebanese Islamists were found guilty of plotting to bomb the US and Israeli embassies in Baku, and last year the authorities said that they had detained members of a radical Muslim group who were allegedly planning an attack on a school.

© 2011 AFP

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