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Ex-Mayor Of North Ossetian Capital Shot Dead

VLADIKAVKAZ (Reuters) -- The former mayor of one of the largest cities in Russia's restive North Caucasus region was shot dead along with his driver just weeks after his successor in the same post was assassinated, local officials have said.

Former Vladikavkaz Mayor Kazbek Pagiyev and his driver were killed near Pagiyev's home in the North Ossetian capital this morning, said an official in the press service of the regional government.

"It appears he was shot as he got into [his] car," the official said. Police were alerted to the killing at 10:50 a.m. local time, the official said.

Pagiyev resigned a few days ago as deputy head of the North Ossetian regional government, local officials said.

The shooting was the latest in a series of high-profile attacks in the North Caucasus, where Chechen violence continues, simmering resentments linger, resistance to Moscow is powerful, and fears of spillover from Russia's August war with Georgia bring new challenges.

"This was not just a sniper's shot, but machine-gun fire. They shot through the car several times," a second local official said.

Pagiyev's replacement as mayor, Vitaly Karayev, died in a gun attack on November 26, three weeks after a suspected suicide bomber blew herself up next to a minibus outside the city's market, killing 12 people.