Baku, July 11, Interfax - The forces that attempted to spark a conflict in Azerbaijan will be seriously punished, according to Azerbaijani presidential aide for sociopolitical matters Ali Hasanov.
"I can say with confidence that the people seeking to create chaos and confrontation will be seriously punished within the framework of the law," Hasanov wrote on Facebook, referring to what took place on Tuesday in Ganja, the country's second largest city.
Hasanov urged those who had violated public order to acknowledge their mistakes and stop participating in such activities.
"Azerbaijan's national interests and statehood must never be a subject for discussion and must never be endangered," he said.
The Azerbaijani authorities will respond harshly to calls for terrorism, Hasanov said. "In addition, the justification of terrorism is unacceptable regardless of reasons and pretexts," he said.
"We are facing a synchronized ideological provocation targeting our country by separatists, religious radicals, and the notorious opposition, which is working for money and comfortable living conditions," Hasanov said.
According to police, "a radicalized religious group composed of 150 to 200 persons tried to hold an unpermitted protest in front of the Ganja city administration's building at 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday. The police warned the protesters that their actions were illegal and urged them to leave. Yet the protesters resisted the police using piercing and cutting weapons."
Two police officers - Ganja deputy police chief Col. Ilgar Balakishiyev and Ganja Nizami district deputy police chief Lt. Col. Samed Abbasov - died trying to stop the protest.
Forty protesters were detained and taken to a police station, the Interior Ministry said.
"Order was restored in the center of Ganja within 30 minutes," the statement said.
A criminal case was opened.