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Muslim teacher killed in Russia's North Caucasus

Source : AFP
Makhachkala : 08 Jun 2011

A Muslim teacher who had publicly criticised radical Islamists was shot dead along with his nephew in Russia's volatile southern region of Dagestan, investigators said on Wednesday.

Maksud Sadikov, the principal of the Institute of Theology and International Relations, was shot in the yard of his home in the regional capital of Makhachkala late Tuesday, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Attackers also shot Sadikov's nephew dead at the scene and slightly injured a third man before fleeing, the regional prosecutors said.

"The main thrust of the murder investigation is Sadikov's professional activity, his active speaking out against the extremist current of Islam," the Dagestan regional investigative committee said in a statement.

Sadikov called for education to combat Islamist extremism and was an expert on Wahhabism, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, referring to a form of Islamism espoused by insurgents in Russia's North Caucasus.

"The shot fired at Maksud Sadikov is a shot at the attempts by authorities and society to achieve peace and reconciliation in the Caucasus," the Council of Muftis, one of Russia's main Muslim organisations, said in a statement.

The institute headed by Sadikov in Makhachkala since 2003 offers a combination of Islamic religious training and secular subjects, with men and women taught separately, its website says.

In a separate incident in Makhachkala, a policeman died after two assailants shot him in the head and fled, police said on Wednesday.

The policeman, in his mid-20s, was shot late Tuesday and died of his wounds at a local hospital, regional police said in a statement.

Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, site of two wars with Chechen separatists in the 1990s, and Dagestan has experienced some of the deadliest violence.

The Caspian Sea region experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamist militants seeking to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus.