Opposition Newspaper Editor Harshly Beaten in Azerbaijan

BAKU (AP)–Bahaddin Khaziyev–editor of the Bizim Yol (Our Way) newspaper–was seized late Thursday in the Azeri capital–Baku–by five men who put a bag over his head and drove him to a lake outside the city–said the head of the opposition Popular Front–Ali Kerimli.

"There–Khazhiyev was savagely beaten and–as a result of his injuries–lay on the lakeside until morning," Kerimli said.

Khaziyev–also the deputy leader of the Popular Front–recounted that one of his assailants called someone on a cell phone to say: "We did everything you asked," Kerimli said.

The opposition leader said the attack had been ordered. "It did not happen by chance–and is part of the war waged in recent years in Azerbaijan against the free press," he said.

An official with the presidential administration–Ali Hasanov–condemned the assault and pledged that authorities in the oil-rich Caspian Sea state would fully investigate it and punish those guilty.

Last year–opposition magazine editor Elmar Huseinov was shot and killed in the lobby of his Baku apartment building. Western countries have called on President Ilham Aliyev and investigators to do more to solve that killing.

Aliyev has been at the helm of his former Soviet nation since 2003–when he came to power in flawed elections–succeeding his father and longtime ruler Heydar Aliyev.

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