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Azerbaijani Police Break Up Protests In Ismayilli

  • RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

ISMAYILLI, Azerbaijan -- Police in the central Azerbaijani town of Ismayilli have broken up renewed protests that raged through the streets there.

Protests sprang up again on January 24 in the town, 150 kilometers northwest of the capital, Baku, but police in riot gear quickly broke them up.

The protesters, some of them throwing stones, have been demanding the resignation of the local governor, Nizami Alekberov. They also wanted the release of dozens of men who have been arrested during the rioting.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the latest protests.

The clashes caused dismay among the town's residents.

"Our small kids are sleeping in their beds, getting poisoned by [tear] gas," said one man. "How long can they go on shooting gas? We've had enough of this. We've had it up to here."

WATCH: A motel and numerous cars were set alight on January 23

On the evening of January 23, thousands of Ismayilli residents rampaged through the town. The unrest reportedly was triggered by a car accident involving the owner of the Chirag motel.

RFE/RL correspondents say authorities have ignored repeated calls by local residents to shut down the motel, the site of an alleged brothel.

The motel was set alight during the unrest. The protesters also set fire to the governor's residence and to cars.

Police are patrolling the streets in Ismayilli to prevent any resumption of the protests.

It's the second major protest in a week in Azerbaijan.

On January 19, police clashed with shopkeepers blocking a highway to protest rent increases at the country's largest shopping center in Baku.

In March 2012, rioters in the town of Quba, near Baku, also demanded the resignation of a local governor.

The unrest there came after the governor publicly called Quba residents "traitors" for selling their land cheaply. The governor was dismissed by President Ilham Aliyev one day after those riots.

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