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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baku Links Arrest to Al-Qaida

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azeri authorities said Tuesday that they had detained eight Islamic radicals, including an Arab man with apparent ties to al-Qaida, and seized a large weapons cache.

The announcement came a week after officials said security forces had thwarted a plot by Islamic militants to attack the U.S. and British embassies and other government buildings.

The Arab man -- detained over the weekend in Sumgait, the country's third-largest city -- was identified as Abu Jafar. His nationality was not released. The other seven have Azeri-sounding names, and they were said to have fought in conflict zones abroad.

The fighters had maps of the town, the National Security Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Arif Babayev said secret agents had uncovered a cache containing four crates of submachine guns, three pistols, hundreds of rounds, a dozen hand grenades and 1.75 kilograms of explosives.

An official statement gave no specific grounds for the claim of al-Qaida links. It said Abu Jafar was also connected with a group called Al-Jihad.

An additional seven suspected associates of Abu Jafar were detained last month, but he escaped an initial attempt to capture him on Oct. 10, the ministry said. It did not accuse him of any specific terrorist plans.

Azeri officials and law enforcement agencies declined to give any further details.

AP, Reuters