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Russia Says It Killed Al-Qaeda Agent In North Caucasus

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian security forces say they have killed an Al-Qaeda agent and a second rebel fighter in its troubled North Caucasus region of Daghestan.

Russian officials say cash from foreign-based radical Islamic organizations is funding the recent surge of violence in Daghestan and the other two North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Ingushetia in which dozens of people have died.

"A representative of an international terrorist organization in the North Caucasus tasked to oversee terrorist acts in Daghestan was neutralized during a combat operation," a security officer told Vesti-24 television news channel.

"He is an Algerian national widely known in underground gangs as 'Doctor Muhammed,' " said the official, dressed in combat gear, who stood with his back to the camera.

Muhammed and a second rebel fighter were killed when police stormed a house in Daghestan's Khasavyurt district bordering Chechnya on the evening of August 30, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia, which has fought two wars against separatists in Chechnya since 1994, is concerned that renewed activities by insurgents could threaten stability in the strategically important region.

On August 28, President Dmitry Medvedev said radical Islamist ideas from abroad were spreading in impoverished North Caucasus and urged mainstream clerics to join forces with the Kremlin in opposing them.