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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dagestan Rebel Chief Is Killed

Law enforcement agencies in Dagestan on Wednesday said they had killed Rasul Makasharipov, leader of a radical Islamic rebel group whose members have been accused of killing dozens of policemen and security officers in the republic.

Makasharipov and Shamil Kebedov, a suspected member of his Jenet organization, were staying in a house in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, when commandos stormed the building early Wednesday, security forces said.

Both men were killed during the operation, Deputy Interior Minister Andrei Novikov told reporters in Makhachkala. Makasharipov's fingerprints matched those in his police files and his relatives identified his body, police said. Kebedov was suspected of taking part in attacks on policemen, a local police source told Interfax on customary condition of anonymity. Makasharipov committed suicide by detonating a grenade, the source said.

The killing of Makasharipov came a few days after several senior police officials were fired over the rebels' continuing insurgency and represents a major PR coup for Dagestani security forces. Police and security forces had been searching for Makasharipov, a former interpreter for Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, since 2002. Members of his organization, Jenet, are accused of having killed more than 50 policemen and security officers in Dagestan, Channel One television reported Wednesday.

Police had twice previously claimed to have Makasharipov trapped -- the first time in a tent camp outside Makhachkala, and the second time in an apartment in the city. Both times he managed to escape, killing policemen after fierce clashes.

Makasharipov also helped found a rebel group called Shariah Jamaat, Arabic for "Community of Justice," Novikov said Wednesday.

The group has claimed responsibility for the killing of 10 Interior Ministry troops in a Makhachkala bombing on July 1, as well as for the killing of Dagestan's deputy interior minister, Magomed Omarov, and information minister, Zagir Orukhov, earlier this year.