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Imam Shot Dead In Southern Russia

(RFE/RL) September 26, 2006 -- A senior Muslim prayer leader has been shot and killed in southern Russia.

Authorities say Abubakir Kudzhiyev, an imam in the city of Kislovodsk, was gunned down on September 25 as he was entering his apartment building.

Separately, a policeman was wounded the same day when police gave chase to two suspects who tried to flee an identity check. Authorities said the two may have been linked to Kudzhiyev's killing.

Kislovodsk is in Stavropol Krai, which neighbors the mainly Muslim regions of Russia's North Caucasus.

The mufti of Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Stavropol Krai, Ismail Khadzi Berdiyev, said he believed Kudzhiyev's killing was linked to his work.

Russia's Council of Muftis said it was a "provocation" that should not go unpunished.

(RIA Novosti, Interfax, AP