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US embassy in Azerbaijan warns of possible terror attacks, kidnappings

American mission in Baku says it received ‘credible reports’ of threat, warns citizens to exercise caution

A woman walks past a building with a painting of the Azerbaijani flag on its wall in Baku on October 14, 2020, amid the ongoing military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. (TOFIK BABAYEV / AFP)
A woman walks past a building with a painting of the Azerbaijani flag on its wall in Baku on October 14, 2020, amid the ongoing military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. (TOFIK BABAYEV / AFP)

The United States on Saturday warned that Americans and foreigners could be targeted by kidnappers or attackers in Azerbaijan, where a conflict is roiling the separatist province of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The US Embassy in Baku has received credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against US citizens and foreign nationals in Baku,” the diplomatic mission said on its website in a message shared by the State Department on Twitter.

“US citizens are advised to exercise heightened caution in locations where Americans or foreigners may gather,” including major hotels in the capital, the embassy added, without further details on the origin of the threats.

The warning comes in the wake of a similar message in Turkey, where US diplomats have reported “credible” threats of attacks or kidnappings targeting Americans in Istanbul or other localities.

It was not clear if the warnings were linked.

A view shows aftermath of recent shelling during the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, in the disputed region’s main city of Stepanakert on October 4, 2020. (Davit Ghahramanyan / NKR Infocenter / AFP)

Turkey’s involvement in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian separatists, has raised the concern of several Western countries since it said it wanted to help Azerbaijan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately Friday with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan, urging them to “end the violence and protect civilians.”

During that meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan pressed concerns about Azerbaijan receiving weapons from its ally Turkey, accusations already made by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian and Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.

The United States has said it is neutral but Pompeo has criticized Turkey and in a recent interview described Armenia’s actions as defensive.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of having targeted the civilian population since the beginning of hostilities on September 27 in the mountainous region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the death toll was nearing 5,000 in the worst flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh in more than two decades.

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