Wednesday, 11 February 2009

azeri air force chief shot dead

Azerbaijan air force head killed

The commander of Azerbaijan's air force has been shot dead outside his house in the capital, Baku, officials have said.

Lt-Gen Rail Rzayev, 64, was shot in the head by an unknown gunman while getting into his car at around 0800 (0400 GMT), the private Turan news agency reported.

Defence ministry officials said the general was taken to a military hospital, but died shortly afterwards.

The authorities say they have launched an investigation into the murder, but they do not know what the motive was.

The BBC's Martin Vennard, who recently returned from Baku, says Gen Rzayev was made commander of the air force and air defence forces shortly after Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

At the time, Azerbaijan was in conflict with neighbouring Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan, which lies on the Caspian Sea, has major oil and gas resources, while the opposition says corruption is widespread.

President Ilham Aliyez won re-election in October in a vote which international observers said fell short of fully democratic standards.

In October 2008, the International Crisis Group described Azerbaijan's armed forces as "fragmented, divided, accountable-to-no-one-but-the-president, un-transparent, corrupt and internally feuding".

"There have been several instances of officers arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, but these tend to be brought selectively against those who have been critical of the regime," it said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/02/11 10:07:15 GMT


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