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Violence Rocks Restive Russian Republic

Two violent incidents have shaken the Russian Caucasus republic of Daghestan.

One of its leading Islamic clerics was killed by a suicide bomber on August 28.

In a separate incident on the same day, a border guard shot several soldiers dead before being killed himself.

Officials in Daghestan say a female suicide bomber killed a leading Sufi Muslim leader Said-Afandi Artsayev and at least six of his followers.

Artsayev, 74, was known as one of the leading Sufi clerics in the mostly Muslim republic of Daghestan in Russia's volatile North Caucasus.

Sufism is a mystical interpretation of Islam which began in the 9th century.

The female suicide bomber, posing as a pilgrim, gained access to Artsayev's home and detonated an explosive belt when she entered the room where Artsayev was meeting followers.

Investigators were working to determine the identity of the suicide bomber.

The attack on Artsayev came as President Vladimir Putin was visiting Tatarstan and meeting with chief Mufti Ildus Faizov, who was injured in a terrorist attack in July.

Putin insisted that Russian society will not be split ethnically or religiously and told a group of Muslim leaders that "Russia is our shared home."

"Religious tolerance has for centuries served as the foundation of Russia's statehood," he said. "And this is where those who are trying to destroy its statehood are trying to hit."

Soldier 'Kills Comrades'

Later on August 28, Russian news agencies reported that as many as seven soldiers died when a fellow soldier opened fire on them near the town of Derbent in Daghestan.

According to the reports, the border guard shot two of his colleagues dead at the group's base in the village of Beliji before entering a barracks and killing at least five more soldiers, some of them members of the local rapid reaction force.

The reports said the soldier who fired the shots was killed when other soldiers returned fire.

Later reports from Russian news agencies said the rogue soldier may have been recruited by Islamic militants.

The incident followed the bombings of two stores -- one a food store, the other a liquor store -- in Derbent overnight.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax

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