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Azerbaijan demonstrators beaten and detained after election protest

Police beat and detained demonstrators in the capital of Azerbaijan on Saturday after a protest against a disputed presidential vote that gave President Ilham Aliyev a third consecutive term in the oil-producing former Soviet republic.

Witnesses saw police kick and thump protesters as scuffles broke out following the rally, which drew thousands in protest at the election dismissed by international monitors and government critics as unfair.

News agency Interfax-Azerbaijan reported that about 10 people were arrested.

Billions of dollars in oil revenues have flowed into the strategically located South Caucasus country, boosting living standards and its international clout, since Aliyev succeeded his father a decade ago. Official results show Aliyev won with 85% of the vote.

But a gaping divide between rich and poor, and allegations that the authorities carried out a pre-election crackdown on dissent that doubled the country’s number of political prisoners, have attracted criticism at home and abroad.

About 4,000 people gathered at the sanctioned protest, accusing the government of vote fraud and demanding a new poll.

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