Police in Azerbaijan have arrested an unspecified number of people linked to Iran and to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah suspected of planning attacks in the country, state television said on Tuesday.
State broadcaster AzTV, quoting the National Security Ministry, said police had detained people linked to Iranian intelligence services and Hezbollah who intended to stage attacks on foreign citizens in the country.
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The report said the suspects had gathered intelligence on targets and bought explosives, guns and ammunition, but gave no further details.
The reported arrests come after a car bomb last week critically injured an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi while Georgian officials defused a second device in Tbilisi. Israel blamed Iran for the attacks. According to reports, the suspects took orders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The cell leaders were indentified as a Revolutionary Guard officer named Hamid and Hezbollah operative Haji Abbas.
Azerbaijan has been recently raised as a possible location for an attack on Israeli and Jewish targets by Iran or Hezbollah. Last month, a plot to assassinate the Israeli ambassador and hit Jewish targets was thwarted.
Three Azeri citizens were arrested on suspicions they plotted to kill a rabbi and teacher at the Ohr Avner Chabad Jewish Day School in Baku as revenge for the recent Israel was behind the assassination.
Two of the suspects were identified as Rasim Aliyev and Ali Huseynov. According to reports, they received instructions from Balagardash Dadashov, who was in contact with Iranian intelligence and received a sniper rifle, pistols and explosive devices to attack Chabad emissaries operating in Baku.
It is estimated that the would-be assassins were supposed to receive $150,000 to carry out the hit on the Israeli ambassador. It was reported that Aliyev, Dadashov's brother-in-law, recruited Huseynov and gave him $9,300 as an advance.
Four years ago, Iranian and Hezbollah intelligence elements planned to blow up a car bomb near the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan. The attack was thwarted.
Last week, Israel's Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a travel advisory calling Israelis around the world to remain vigilant following a series of terror attacks in India, Georgia and Thailand.
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