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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senior Chechen Rebel Leader Killed

Government forces have killed a senior Chechen rebel commander suspected of assassinating the late President Akhmad Kadyrov three years ago.

"As a result of a well planned operation that lasted approximately two months, we succeeded in tracking the so-called commander ... Khairulla," Chechen President-designate Ramzan Kadyrov said, Interfax reported. "He has now been eliminated."

Chechen officials identified the rebel as Khairulla. Gazeta.ru said his full name was Suleiman Imurzayev.

There was no way of independently verifying that he had been killed.

Chechen officials say Khairulla, was one of the Chechen rebels behind a bomb attack at a sports stadium in 2004 that killed then-President Akhmad Kadyrov, the father of Ramzan Kadyrov, 30.

"This person took responsibility for the death of my father and said that Ramzan Kadyrov is next," Kadyrov said in a statement.

Imurzayev was one of three main rebel leaders still at large. The other two are Doku Umarov, considered by the rebels to be the Chechen president, and Rappani Khalilov, who specializes in terrorist attacks in Dagestan, Gazeta.ru reported.

Kadyrov is to be inaugurated as Chechnya's president on Thursday. He has in the past vowed to avenge his father's death.

Kadyrov's press secretary said Khairulla had been killed in a shootout between federal soldiers and a group of 10 rebels in the Chechen mountains. The other rebels were arrested, he said.

n Ramzan Kadyrov was to be awarded the Distinguished Defender of Human Rights award in Grozny on Wednesday, Kommersant reported.

Alexander Sapronov, spokesman for a little-known Ukraine-based NGO called the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, told the newspaper that Kadyrov had been chosen for the award because of his "personal contribution to the protection of human rights."

The NGO, which was registered in Kiev in 2001, claims to have 61 million members around the world.

The committee is headed by Colonel General Igor Danilov. Its honorary president is former Ukrainian Interior Minister Ivan Gladysh, according to the NGO's web site.

Colonel General Viktor Kazantsev, who commanded government troops during the campaigns in Dagestan and Chechnya in 1999 and 2000, is the group's "extraordinary and plenipotentiary envoy."

Reuters, MT