BAKU, Azerbaijan — The U.S. and British embassies suspended operations Monday in Baku, where the government said it thwarted a radical Islamic group’s plot to conduct a “large-scale, horrifying terror attack” against diplomatic missions and government buildings.
The Azerbaijani National Security Ministry said one suspect was killed and several others were detained in a weekend sweep in village outside the capital.
The ministry said the Islamic group included an army lieutenant who stole 20 hand grenades, a machine gun, four assault rifles and ammunition from his military unit and made them available for the planned attack.
The ministry said that a hunt for other members of the group was still under way.
National Security Ministry spokesman Arif Babayev told The Associated Press that the radical Islamic group had planned to launch a “terror attack against several government structures in Baku and the U.S. Embassy.”
The U.S. Embassy sent out an announcement to American citizens saying it had closed its consular office for an indefinite period because of a security threat and said it encouraged Americans to “maintain a high level of vigilance.” Police cars were parked outside.
The British Embassy closed completely on Monday, according to a receptionist in the Landmark building where the embassy is located. No one answered the phone at the embassy.
Several offices in the Landmark building also shut down operations Monday, including included Norway’s StatoilHydro ASA and BP Azerbaijan, the receptionist said.
In Washington, the State Department declined to comment on the specific nature of the threat but said the embassy, in cooperation with officials in Azerbaijan, had beefed up security and the mission would likely reopen soon.
“They have worked closely with the government of Azerbaijan, they are in a good posture now and I would expect they would resume normal operations in the days to come,” spokesman Sean McCormack said.
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