Hundreds of police officers clashed Saturday with opposition demonstrators trying to hold a march and rally that had been banned by the government.
A spokesman for the opposition Azerbaijani Popular Front said 200 of its followers had been injured by police and 30 arrested. Among those taken into custody was former Prime Minister Panach Guseinov, said the spokesman, Arif Gadzhiyev.According to police spokesman Akshin Zeinalov, only 16 people had been arrested and all had been released from custody. He said dozens of police officers were hurt in the melee, nine seriously.
Police used batons to disperse the crowd, which had gathered outside Popular Front headquarters in the Azerbaijani capital.
News agencies said about 600 people participated in the rally, and about 500 police were deployed to stop it.
The rally had been called to demand that the government of President Geidar Aliyev suspend a presidential election scheduled for Oct. 11. The leading opposition figures are boycotting the election, saying Aliyev exercises too much control over the Central Election Commission.
"The authorities crossed out the democratic image of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan . . . by beating the opposition at the rally," Popular Front official Fuad Mustafayev said.
Aliyev was Communist Party chief when Azerbaijan was a Soviet republic, and has exercised strong control over the country as president.