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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gunmen Kill Chechen Village Elder

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- Masked gunmen killed a village elder in Chechnya early Thursday and left a warning pinned to his body that all so-called traitors would face a similar death, officials said.

Gunmen burst into the house of Khumid Visaitov, the 82-year-old head of the council of elders in the village of Abugoroy, and fatally shot him, officials in the Moscow-backed Chechen government said.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attackers left a sign that read "Enemy of the people" on Visaitov's house in southern Chechnya's Itum-Kale district.

Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the military campaign in Chechnya, said the attackers also pinned a sign to the body saying "This will happen to every enemy of the people," Interfax reported.

Shabalkin said Visaitov was killed because he supported the presidential election held Sunday in Chechnya, but he did not reveal how he could know the motive. Rebels opposed the election, which Chechnya's Kremlin-appointed administration chief and acting president, Akhmad Kadyrov, won by a wide margin over six little-known challengers, according to official results.

Shabalkin and other officials said the elder's attackers were members of a group of fighters led by rebel Tarkhan Gaziyev, but there was no way to independently confirm those statements.