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BAKU -- Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry (MNS) says it has uncovered a terror group that was plotting to assassinate public figures, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The ministry said on January 19 that the group was planning terrorist acts and had illegally acquired firearms, military supplies, and explosives.

The APA news agency quoted the MNS as saying that Azerbaijani citizens Rasim Aliyev, Ali Huseynov, and Balaqardash Dadashov -- the latter of whom is living in Iran -- coordinated efforts to acquire firearms and explosives.

It said those materials were brought illegally to Azerbaijan from Iran.

The MNS said Dadashov was in contact with Iranian special service bodies and ordered the assassination of prominent foreigners living in Baku. It claims that Dadashov promised Aliyev -- his brother-in-law -- $150,000 for his work.

"After Rasim Aliyev agreed to this proposal, Dadashov sent him photos of the people to be assassinated, the layout of their homes, and pictures of their cars," the MNS said in a statement. "Dadashov paid Aliyev a total of $9,300 for preparatory work he had done."

The statement said the three men visited the work areas of the people who were to be assassinated to take note of the surveillance cameras being used and decided to carry out the killings with a sniper rifle. It said they also considered shooting their targets near their homes.

The MNS said Dadashov had told his accomplices that he would discuss their plans with Iranian secret services.

The arms were secretly brought from Iran to Azerbaijan and hidden along the 150th kilometer marker of the Baku-Astara highway.

MNS has opened an investigation into charges that include plotting the assassination of a public figure, possession of contraband, the illegal acquisition and transportation of firearms, military supplies, and explosives.

Aliyev and Huseynov have been detained by Azerbaijani security officers.

Neither the defendants nor their lawyers have commented thus far.

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