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Azerbaijan Arrests 7 Ex-security Officials Ahead of Election

FILE - An Azeri policeman is seen guarding the entrance to Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry building in downtown Baku.

Police in Azerbaijan arrested seven former national security officials on Tuesday on suspicion ofexceeding their authority and illegal interference in
businesses, days after Azeri President Ilham Aliyev fired his national security minister.

Eldar Mahmudov was fired on Saturday in a surprise move two weeks ahead of a parliamentary election in the oil-rich nation.

No reason was given for the dismissal, which was announced in a presidential decree.

The Prosecutor General's office said on Tuesday it had opened a criminal case and created an investigative group "in connection with acts of abuse of official powers and other offences committed by different officials at the national security ministry."

"Investigative operations have raised suspicions about a group of ministry officials abusing service powers, illegally intervening in the activities of entrepreneurs in violation of the law on entrepreneurship, and violating the judicially and legally protected interests of different individuals," the Prosecutor General's office said in a statement.