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Azeris Plan New Protest Over Army Deaths With Facebook Campaign

Thousands of Azeris are signing up on Facebook Inc. to stage a second rally in three months to protest violence in the former Soviet republic’s armed forces.

A Facebook Inc. page created to coordinate the event shows that almost 18,000 people accepted the call to demonstrate in the central Fountains Square in the capital, Baku, on March 10, with more than 150,000 invited to take part.

Azerbaijan’s largely conscription-based army has lost 14 soldiers in non-combat incidents so far this year, according to Jasur Sumarinli, head of the non-governmental Doctrine Center of Military Studies, based in Baku. Seventy-seven died last year, he said by e-mail.

Military service is mandatory for all men aged between 18 and 35 in the Caspian Sea nation, which has a population of more than 9 million. The government has rejected calls to shift to an all-volunteer force because of the country’s military standoff with neighboring Armenia.

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