Suspect in 1999 Apartment Bombing Killed

A suspect twice cleared by juries on charges of organizing a 1999 apartment bombing that killed 58 people was among four Islamist militants who died in a Dagestani gun battle with police commandos, officials said.

The suspect, Magomed Salikhov, 46, was accused of organizing a bombing in the Dagestani town of Buinaksk in September 1999, the first in a series that rocked Russian cities that month, killing more than 300 people and leading the Kremlin to start the second war in Chechnya.

Salikhov was twice cleared by jurors, but associates of his who were tried by a judge were sentenced to terms of up to life in prison.

Commandos found Salikhov and the other three men in an apartment in Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, during a sting operation late Monday, said a spokesman for the local branch of the Federal Security Service, Interfax reported. A gun battle broke out when the four refused to surrender, he said.

The four men have been linked to dozens of killings of local law enforcement officials and moderate Muslim clergymen, as well as local television journalist Telman Alishayev earlier this year, the report said.

Meanwhile, a senior Dagestani clergyman, Sultan Sultanmagomedov, and his driver were injured by a roadside bomb in Makhachkala on Tuesday morning, Interfax reported.