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Azerbaijan Conducts Counterterror Operations Along Russian Border

BAKU -- Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry has announced the start of large-scale operations in the northern Quba, Khachmaz, and Qusar districts that border on Russia, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The objective of the operations, which began on April 6, is to search for internationally wanted organized-crime and terrorist groups as well as other criminals, and to confiscate illegal weapons.

Interior Ministry official Ehsan Zahidov told RFE/RL that such operations were conducted every year in partnership with neighboring countries. He said this year the operations were being conducted under a mutual cooperation agreement with Russia.

On April 5, Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry issued a press release announcing the start of an operation in the northern Balakan district that also borders Russia.

The ministry said the operation was aimed at neutralizing an organized group that was planning terrorist acts in Baku. It did not give further details.

Azerbaijan has a long northern border with the Russian republic of Daghestan, where Islamic insurgents have been actively fighting Russian security forces.