Dagestani Police Head Murdered

A senior police officer in the restive republic of Dagestan was killed in an apparent contract murder, Dagestani police said Tuesday.

Magomed-Arip Aliyev, police chief in the town of Buinaksk, died at the scene after armed assailants sprayed his Mercedes 500 sedan with automatic gunfire late Monday. The unidentified attackers fled the scene, regional police spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

The murder was connected with Aliyev's "professional activities," Tolchinsky told Interfax.

An unidentified source in the regional Interior Ministry said Aliyev's name was on a hit list drawn up by local insurgents, RIA-Novosti reported.

"Aliyev paid with his life for his uncompromising battle with extremists and had a death warrant issued for him four years ago by rebels," the source told RIA-Novosti.

Aliyev, who had been the target of several attacks, led and participated in raids on illegal armed formations in and around Buinaksk, the source told RIA-Novosti.

Buinaksk was the first Russian town attacked in a series of apartment-building bombings in September 1999 -- bombings that were blamed on Chechen separatists and became the pretext for the second large-scale military conflict in Chechnya. Sixty-four people died in Buinaksk and hundreds of others died in the subsequent bombing of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk.

In March, an Interior Ministry serviceman and a riot police officer were killed during a security sweep in the Buinaksk district. Federal forces killed six suspected militants in the raid on a camp in the district, the ministry said.

Police and security officials are commonly targeted by gunmen in the North Caucasus republic, which has been plagued by violence linked to a police crackdown on Islamic militancy, clan rivalries and internal power struggles.

Last month, the head of the Dagestani Interior Ministry's economic crimes department, Akhmedudin Absaludinov, was killed in the republic's capital, Makhachkala, in drive-by shooting. No has been arrested in the murder.

AP, MT