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Alleged Radical Islamic Leader Dead In Kyrgyzstan

The house in Osh where Akhunov was apprehended (RFE/RL) September 4, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's officials now say an alleged leader of the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, Rasul Akhunov, died of heart failure.

Earlier, Kyrgyz security forces said they killed Akhunov in a firefight after he refused to surrender.

Akhunov was tracked down in a house in Osh during a security operation on September 2. He reportedly refused to surrender and opened fire.

The head of Kyrgystan's National Security Service's (SNB), Busurmankul Tabaldiev, said today that his agents tried to capture Akhunov alive. He said the bullet wounds Akhunov received were not life-threatening and cardiac rupture was a real reason for Akhunov's death.

One security officer was slightly wounded during the operation.

Akhunov was wanted for terror-related crimes in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. He was believed to have had links to Al-Qaeda leaders.

SNB chief Tabaldiev blamed Akhunov for a recent attack against Tajik and Kyrgyz border posts in which several border guards were killed, saying he "was one of the organizers of the attack on the Lakkan border post in Tajikistan on May 12." news agency has reported that Akhunov was with three alleged terrorists -- including the popular imam of a mosque in Kara-Suu -- when they were killed in a security raid in Osh in early August but managed to escape.

The Islamic Movement of Turkestan is believed to have emerged in recent years from elements of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and other extremist groups.

(with additional reporting by AKIpress,

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