Azeri border guard killed in shootout on Iranian frontier
BAKU - Agence France-PresseAn Azerbaijani border guard has been killed in a firefight with unknown assailants along the ex-Soviet state's frontier with Iran, the border service said in a statement Monday.
The armed clash occurred Sunday in the southern Lankaran region when unidentified individuals illegally attempted to cross over the border from Iran, the statement said.
"As a result one border guard was killed and a further two were injured," the border service said. The latest incident follows the temporary closure last month of several crossings along the border of Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan following an alleged shooting incident. Baku and Tehran have somewhat tetchy relations, with Azerbaijani officials previously linking Iran to an alleged plot to stage a wave of attacks during the Eurovision song contest held in mainly Muslim, but officially secular, Azerbaijan in May 2012.
Oil-rich Azerbaijan enjoys warm relations with the United States and Israel and has become an increasingly important energy supplier to Europe.
Azerbaijan's border with Iran also lies on drug smuggling routes linking Central Asia to Russia and Europe.