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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Al-Qaida Leader Killed in Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA -- Police on Sunday killed a top Arab leader who commanded foreign mercenaries in Chechnya and was al-Qaida's top emissary to the North Caucasus, regional security officials said.

Abu Khavs was killed in a four-hour gun battle with police in the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt, not far from the Chechen border, along with four other militants, said Mikhail Merkulov, deputy director for the Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service, or FSB.

Merkulov called Abu Khavs "a foreign mercenary of Jordanian origin" who was the main al-Qaida contact for the North Caucasus. "We have information that the operations conducted in Chechnya that were aimed at counteracting federal actions were planned and carried out with the direct participation of the terrorist Abu Khavs," he said in comments broadcast on state television. He said Abu Khavs also planned "bandit operations" in Dagestan.

Television footage showed a house apparently ravaged by gunfire, along with the bodies of at least five purported militants. One FSB officer was wounded in the operation, the the service said.

The FSB said Abu Khavs, whose name has also been spelled Havs or Hafs, took over as al-Qaida's top emissary in 2004 after the death of Saudi-born rebel chief Abu Walid.