Eurovision Terror, Assassination Plots Foiled, Azerbaijan Says

Azerbaijan said its agents foiled plots by Islamic rebels to kill foreigners at the Eurovision song contest in Baku and assassinate President Ilham Aliyev.

Azeri law-enforcement officials killed two members of the armed group, including its leader, and arrested 40 more, the National Security Ministry said in an e-mailed statement today. The rebels have links to insurgents in the Dagestan region of neighboring Russia, according to the ministry.

The group planned to detonate explosives at Crystal Hall in Baku during this month’s Eurovision contest, the world’s most-watched singing competition, the ministry said. It also plotted to kill Aliyev during his trip to the northwest region of the country last month.

Azerbaijan, a mostly Shiite Muslim nation of 9 million, borders Russia’s North Caucasus region, where the government has been battling with Islamic rebels for two decades. The Caspian Sea nation is the third-largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union, after Russia and Kazakhstan.

The ministry in February said it had uncovered a terrorist group with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Sepah, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.