Russia says security forces have killed in Daghestan a top militant suspected of organizing the suicide bombings on the Moscow subway in March in which dozens of people were killed.
The National Counterterrorism Committee said Magomedali Vagabov was among five militants killed in a clash in the village of Gunib, southwest of the regional capital, Makhachkala, where the militants were holed up in a house.
Insurgency websites, however, quoted official Russian sources as saying he was killed in Gubden, his native village in Daghestan.
Liz Fuller, RFE/RL's North Caucasus analyst, says Vagabov had become the second-most-powerful figure within the insurgency hierarchy after self-styled Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov.
"Magomedali Vagabov was one of the younger generation of field commanders following the split in the ranks of the insurgency earlier this month," Fuller says.
"When four Chechen commanders said they would no longer consider themselves subordinate to Doku Umarov, Vagabov emerged as effectively the second-in-command after Umarov. He has pledged his own personal loyalty to Umarov and he has called on all other fighters to do the same."
The National Counterterrorism Committee said the operation in Gunib showed that "even the most sophisticated means will not allow bandits to escape responsibility for their deeds."Training Of Suicide Bombers
Vagabov was suspected of organizing the double suicide bombings on the Moscow subway on March 29, in which 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.
Russian security officials claimed Vagabov was the husband of Mariam Sharipova, one of the two women from Daghestan identified as the suicide bombers.
The committee said he had received training at a militant camp in Pakistan and had contacts with a number of international terror groups who had also passed on financing.
The statement said Vagabov was also actively involved in recruiting youth and organized the training of suicide bombers.
Besides the Moscow subway attacks, it said Vagabov had also planned a string of attacks against security forces and on railway infrastructure.
"His reputation was primarily as an ideologue of jihad -- he had studied in Pakistan -- rather than as a military man. He recruited young men and trained them as militant fighters, but there is very little evidence that he actually had any combat experience himself," analyst Fuller says.
According to a biography posted this month on a militant website, Jamaat.Shariat.com, Vagabov was born in April 1975. with agency reports