An Azerbaijani claiming to be an exiled journalist in France was seriously wounded and his wife was killed on Friday in a gun attack near the southern city of Toulouse, police said.
Rahim Namazov, a father of three, fled his oil-rich homeland in the Caucasus for France in 2010 after suffering death threats and being imprisoned, he said in a YouTube video posted online at the time.
The 39-year-old was fighting for his life in hospital after suffering serious back injuries, while his wife died after being hit in the head in the shooting in front of their home Friday morning in the Toulouse suburb of Colomiers.
One of their children, a 15-year-old boy, was in their apartment at the time and heard the gunfire, local authorities told AFP, adding that he was being looked after by a local trauma group.
The local Toulouse Journalists’ Association said it had met Namazov in 2010 but was unable to confirm he was a reporter, while the mayor’s office said it was unaware he was living in the area.
Media freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was checking Namazov’s identity, but regional specialist Johan Bihr drew attention to comments from respected Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova who cast doubt on his claims.
Writing on Facebook, Ismayilova claimed that Namazov had pretended to be a journalist to get asylum in France and had recently got into a public argument with a mafia boss on the internet.
Police said that seven bullets were fired in total in the shooting in a car park on Friday morning after the couple had dropped their youngest child at school.
Azerbaijan has been ruled by the repressive family of a strongman president Ilham Aliyev since 1993.