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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Imam Shot Dead at Mosque

Itar-TassAbubakir Kudzhiyev
NALCHIK -- Unidentified assailants shot and killed a senior Muslim official in the Stavropol region, authorities said Tuesday.

Abubakir Kudzhiyev, an imam at a mosque in the city of Kislovodsk, was gunned down Monday night as he was entering his apartment building, said Roman Gubatov, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry branch in southern Russia.

Nikolai Ivanov, an investigator with the regional prosecutor's office, said there were two attackers and that they managed to flee. Police have started a manhunt.

Ismail Hadzhi Berdiyev, the leader of a regional Muslim organization, said the slaying was especially cruel since Kudzhiyev was killed during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. "Killing during Ramadan is a double sin, and people who committed it ... will face dreadful punishment and will be condemned by all," he said.

In an unsigned statement sent to reporters, a local rebel leader who identified himself as the head of the group Jamaat of Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, a region that lies southwest of Stavropol, claimed responsibility for the crime and said similar attacks would persist.

"There is a list of traitors who, under the guise of Islam, commit dirty crimes and hamper the victory of true Islam -- these are people who sold out and they are the ones we target," the said leader, who did not give his name.

The statement's author and its veracity could not be independently confirmed.