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The imam of a rural mosque in Russia's restive North Caucasus republic of Daghestan was shot dead today.

Russian news agencies said the body of Ashurulav Kurbanov was found near the mosque in the village of Mikheyevka in the northern Kizlyar district.

Mainstream Muslim leaders are frequent targets of militants in Daghestan, a center of the Islamist insurgency that persists in Russia's North Caucasus a decade after federal forces drove separatists from power in neighboring Chechnya.

The head of an Islamic theological institute was shot dead in Daghestan's capital, Makhachkala, earlier this month.

compiled from agency reports