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A Sufi sheikh has been shot dead at his home in a village in southeastern part of the Russian republic of Daghestan, RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service reports.
Sirajudin Israfilov, 56, was imam of a Sufi mosque in the town of Derbent and reportedly had between 5,000-10,000 supporters. He was not recognized as a sheikh by Daghestan's official Muslim clergy.
Israfilov's brother said he was shot dead at close range on October 27 in the village of Khurik by two men in camouflage clothes who entered the yard of his home.
In a joint statement, Daghestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov and the republican parliament and government paid tribute to Israfilov's "wisdom and piety" and underscored his rejection of "extremism and terrorism."
The authorities said they believe Israfilov was murdered by members of the Islamic insurgency, which has killed a dozen local imams over the past two years.
But those killings were all in the northern and central districts of Daghestan. Khurik is in the southeastern Tabasaran district, close to the border with Azerbaijan.
Daghestan's Muslims are divided between adherents of canonical Sunni Islam represented by the Shafii legal school; a local form of Sufism; and the Salafi ("wahhabi") Islam professed by members of the North Caucasus insurgency.
Of Daghestan's 19 Sufi sheikhs, the official Spiritual Board of Muslims of Daghestan (DUMD) recognizes only four.
The DUMD website was inaccessible at the time of this report. RFE/RL was unable to contact the DUMD for comment on Israfilov's death.
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