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Azerbaijan: Two Killed In Post-Election Violence

Baku, 16 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Two people were reported killed today in Baku amid violent clashes between police and opposition demonstrators protesting the outcome of Azerbaijan's presidential elections. Ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party Executive Secretary Ali Ahmadov said one elderly man and a young boy were killed. He gave no details about the deaths.

Azerbaijan's Electoral Commission says that with 94 percent of the ballots counted, Ilham Aliyev is on course to succeed his father as president, with 79.5 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, Musavat Party leader Isa Qambar, received only 12 percent.

But the opposition accuses the government of fraud. A spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Urdur Gunnarsdottir, said OSCE observers had witnessed voting irregularities: "There were numerous problems we observed such as ballot stuffing, intimidation, people giving instructions in the booth, unauthorized observers in the polling stations, etc...etc."

Today's demonstration saw Musavat supporters -- some armed with rocks -- smashing property and fighting battles with riot police in central Baku. Journalists reported several instances of baton-wielding police beating bloodied protestors as they lay on the ground.