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Source: RFE/RL

Mar 29, 2023

Azerbaijan's State Security Service (DTX) said on March 29 that lawmaker Fazil Mustafa was hospitalized with gunshot wounds to his shoulder and leg the previous evening after an unknown assailant opened fire at him near his home. DTX called the attack "a terrorist act," adding that Mustafa's life was not in danger.

Mustafa is the only representative in parliament of the Boyuk Qurulus (Great Creativeness) party loyal to the government. Investigations into the attack are under way, DTX said. Mustafa is a sharp critic of neighboring Iran's policies toward Azerbaijan.

"Iran has 100% hand in this"

In the evening of March 28, MP Fazil Mustafa was shot in front of his house. "As a result of the terrorist act, Fazil Mustafa received a bullet wound that penetrated the right shoulder girdle and the lower third of the right thigh... His life is not in danger," the State Security Service (SSC) reported.

The MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) Ishti Mammadov assessed the armed attack on "Turan", DTX, and his colleague F. Mustafa as an act of terrorism: "This is an attack on freedom of speech and democracy in Azerbaijan. The stability of Azerbaijan, the comfortable life of people, the reforms carried out in the country , is a step taken by foreign forces to prevent the political movement in Azerbaijan on the way to the liberation of its own lands".

The deputy said that F. Mustafa is a deputy who speaks his word and speaks his opinion against the forces that want to destabilize Azerbaijan.

According to Mammadov, after the armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran on January 27 of this year and several disruptive actions there, there is no other version left: "Also, March 28 is the holiday of the State Security Service, the Azerbaijani embassy is opening in Israel. Here, 100% Iranian have a hand in it and they continue their destructive activities here as usual".

It was not possible to get an opinion on this claim from the Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan.

"The smell of political terror came from the air"

Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Milli Majlis, Zahid Oruj, told "Turan" that the incident happened on the day of the professional holiday of the state security agencies and during the official opening of the Azerbaijani embassy in Israel:

" Azerbaijan controls all strategic roads in Khankendi and its surroundings. yesterday, on March 28, when appointing a special representative to Lachin, Mr. President also stated that we are in a position to control Armenia and will continue to strengthen. In addition to that, quite complex events are taking place in the region. From this point of view, the smell of political terrorism came from the air."

"They want us to take sides, join different blocs"

According to him, the regional situation is very complicated at the moment: "But at the same time, our people boasted that our country was known as an island of stability in these conditions. Now they want to eliminate that stability. In this case, Azerbaijan should go into conflict with various states and leave a balanced position.

They want , let's take sides, let's join different blocs. If external traces of this terrorism are proven, how we will establish relations with those countries should be determined after the results of the investigation."

"It was expected"

But there are those who have a different approach to the matter. According to a number of observers, this event may be aimed at diverting attention from some issues.

Erastun Orujlu , a former employee of the special services, says that this incident is not related to F. Mustafa in particular, and it was an expected incident in general: "Because the recent events in Baku - the attack in front of the ATM at Bravo this month, the State Firing near the circus was like preparing a public opinion in Azerbaijan for such events."

According to him, the attack on politicians is always aimed at creating confusion and fear in a society: "The ultimate limit of this is destabilization, the course has been taken."

The expert emphasized that he cannot say who or which country carried out this attack: "I still do not have any proof, but I can say that if a politician or a member of parliament is attacked, it is a message to these people that no one is safe in this country. This is both it is a political and public message".

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