Security services in Azerbaijan have arrested forty people linked to Al-Qaeda over a series of terror plots targeting last weekend’s Eurovision song contest.
Suspected targets include various hotels housing dignitaries from the competition, as well as Azeri President Ilham Aliyeve.
Contestants, including Jedward and Englebert Humperdinck, may also have been targeted.
The central focus of the attack would have been the Baku Crystal Hall, where the singing competition took place.
Alongside the arrests, the security services recovered a large cache of weapons, including rifles, handguns, bullets, grenades and explosives.
According to a police statement: “The armed group set itself the aim of mounting terror attacks, creating a mood of powerlessness and lawlessness, sowing ethnic and religious enmity and damaging Azerbaijan’s international image.”
A security service operative and at least one Azerbaijani national, a 37-year-old called Vugar Padarov, were killed during the raids. According to Azerbaijan intelligence, Padrov had received training in Syria.
The country has suffered an increase in religious extremism in recent months, with the arrests in March of 22 citizens recruited by Iranian security forces to carry out terror plots against the US.