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Azerbaijani Oil Workers Clash With Residents Over Home Demolition

BAKU -- Several residents living on the outskirts of the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, have been left bloodied and bruised after a violent confrontation with state oil company employees who were demolishing their homes, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The clash between workers of Azerbaijan's State Oil Company (SOCAR) and residents of Sulutepe took place on December 14.

Residents told RFE/RL that SOCAR security employees wearing military uniforms as well as police armed with batons beat them as they were protesting the demolition of their homes.

A number of residents were injured in the violence.

SOCAR, which claims the lands were occupied illegally and should be evacuated, could not continue the demolition due to the protests.

WATCH: The aftermath of clashes between residents of an area on the outskirts of BAKU and oil company workers who were trying to demolish their homes (in Azeri).

Rahman Tagiyev, who had wounds to his face and eyes, said SOCAR employees beat him and demolished his house. "How can they demolish a man's home this way? The president has a decree that a home with a roof cannot be demolished. Do they respect the president's decree?" he asked.

Some residents said they had obtained relevant documents from the municipality to construct their one- or two-storey homes.

They also said they had received no notification or order from any court.

Some homes were demolished with all possessions and documents inside.

"No one has told us we cannot conduct construction here. This is anarchy," said one protester, Shakir Huseynov.

But Nizameddin Quliyev, head of SOCAR's press service, told RFE/RL that no home can be demolished without a court order.

"Those areas belong to [the SOCAR subsidiary] Binaqadi Oil. Our security officers protect their facilities as well," he added.

In May 2011, SOCAR President Rovnag Abadullaev argued that illegal construction was damaging oil production, saying "67 percent of the Binaqadi Oil contract area has been occupied by citizens."

More than 35,000 people live in one such disputed area in the Bayil settlement, outside Baku.

Read more in Azeri here

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