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Azerbaijani Governor Fired After Rioting

BAKU -- The governor of Azerbaijan's northeastern district of Quba has been removed from his post -- one day after rioting in the city of Quba left buildings damaged and led authorities to call in security reinforcements.

The sacking of Governor Rauf Habibov was announced on March 2 by President Ilham Aliyev's office.

On March 1, some 1,000 demonstrators broke windows at Quba government buildings and set fire to a house belonging to Habibov, demanding his resignation.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

At least four people were injured.

The unrest came after Habibov was seen in a video suggesting that Quba residents were "traitors" for selling their land cheaply.

Quba was reported calm on March 2.

The previous day's unrest is believed to have marked the largest Azeri public demonstration outside Baku since Aliyev came to power in 2003.

In related news, the media monitor of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has released a statement calling on the international body's members to take proactive measures to protect journalists covering protests and demonstrations.

OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic made the call after two journalists were injured and others tear-gassed while covering the violent clashes in Quba.

"The police must ensure that journalists are not attacked and can safely report on all public events," Mijatovic's statement said.

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