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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Chechen rebel leader Sadulayev killed

GROZNY, Russia - The Chechen rebel leader was killed in a special police operation in his hometown on Saturday, authorities said.

Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev was killed in his hometown of Argun, a city nine miles east of Grozny. The press service of the Moscow-backed Chechen prime minister confirmed Russian media reports of his death.

The Interfax news agency quoted Muslim Khuchiyev, a minister in the local administration, as saying that police acted on a tip, tracked down Sadulayev and killed him when he offered resistance.

Further details of the operation were not immediately available.

"The terrorists have been virtually beheaded. They have sustained a severe blow, and they are never going to recover from it," the Interfax news agency quoted Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov as saying.

Sadulayev succeeded Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed by Russian forces last year. He had promoted efforts to spread the rebel movement beyond
Chechnya's borders and attack Russian forces across the poverty-stricken and corruption-gripped south.

Ekho Moskvy radio said Russian prosecutors suspect he organized the 2001 kidnapping of American Kenneth Gluck, who was abducted while working in southern Russia for the aid group
Doctors Without Borders. Gluck, of New York, was freed after 25 days.

The radio station also said Maskhadov had called Sadulayev the co-organizer of a 2004 raid on police and security installations in the Russian republic of Ingushetia, which killed some 90 people.

Sadulayev was relatively unknown outside rebel circles. He had served as a judge of the Chechen rebels' Shariat committee — an extension of the Islamic court established under Maskhadov when he was Chechnya's elected president in the 1990s

Chechnya's separatist movement initially was rooted in nationalist sentiment, but in recent years has taken on a growing Islamic cast.
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