Source AP ©

Eight militants captured in Azerbaijan

Eight Islamic radicals, including an Arab man with apparent ties to al-Qaida, were detained in Azerbaijan. Authorities also said they had seized a large weapons cache.

The announcement came a week after officials said security forces had thwarted a plot by Islamic militants to attack the U.S. Embassy and other government buildings in Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country with a secular leadership.

The Arab man - detained over the weekend in Sumgait, the ex-Soviet republic's third largest city - was identified as Abu Jafar. His nationality was not released. The other seven have Azerbaijani-sounding names, and they were said to have fought in conflict zones abroad.

Azerbaijani officials and law enforcement agencies declined to give any further details, and the official statement gave no specific grounds for the claim of al-Qaida links. It said Abu Jafar was also connected with a group called Al-Jihad.

An additional seven alleged associates of Abu Jafar were detained last month, but he escaped an initial attempt to capture him on Oct. 10, the National Security Ministry said. It did not accuse him of any specific terrorist plans.

Azerbaijan has warm ties with the United States and is one of the few Muslim countries contributing to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.