Muslim cleric, 4 police killed in southern Russia (Russia)

A top Muslim cleric was shot dead by militants Monday in a volatile region in southern Russia, and four police officers were killed by a land mine planted by the rebels in another province, officials said.


Akhmed Tagayev, a deputy chief mufti in the province of Dagestan, was shot and killed by gunmen in the regional capital Makhachkala, said regional police spokesman Shamil Guseinov.
Tagayev had publicly condemned the followers of the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam. Islamic militants in Dagestan, a Caspian sea province east of Chechnya, have staged regular attacks on police and authorities.
Other neighboring regions in Russia's North Caucasus also have been plagued by regular shootings, bombings and other violence.
Also Monday, four police officers from Chechnya were killed when they stepped on a rebel-planted landmine during a security sweep in the Sunzha region of Ingushetia, a province west of Chechnya, the regional branch of Russia's Interior Ministry said.
Police and special forces from Chechnya and Ingushetia had been jointly trying to track down a group of militants near the forested border between the two provinces.
Earlier Monday, a rebel was killed in a gunbattle between police and half a dozen armed men near the border, the Chechen branch of Russia's Interior Ministry said.
The Kremlin last month formally ended a federal counterterrorism operation in Chechnya, which has seen two bloody separatist wars in the past 15 years. But insurgents continue to stage sporadic attacks on troops and authorities there.

Von: 26.05.2009,

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