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Defense minister says "Russian bin Laden" Basayev dead

RIA Novosti

11/07/2006 10:42 GROZNY, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense minister said Tuesday that there was no doubt that the country's most wanted man, Shamil Basayev, had been killed in southern Russia Monday.

Sergei Ivanov canceled a scheduled visit to the Urals for an international arms exhibition Monday night and flew into Chechnya upon the news about the death of who he called "Russia's bin Laden," referring to the al-Qaeda terrorist leader.

"There is no doubt that Basayev, a terrorist with the blood of thousands of Russian citizens, including women and children, on his hands, has been killed," Ivanov said, praising the work of special services.

But he refused to spill any more detail saying that it was the competence of authorized structures.

Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, warned that the notorious terrorist's death did not mean an end to underground gangs.

"We will still have to work [to stop their activities]," he said. "But Basayev's death is a landmark event because he was our bin Laden."

The minister said Basayev's death would bring closer peaceful life on "the long-suffering Chechen soil."

Ivanov said Basayev had been the last leader of the so-called Ichkeria, the name that separatists gave Chechnya in the 1990s to indicate its "independence" from Russia.

"If we remember the 1990s and the so-called Ichkeria - none of its leaders are among the living: Dudayev, Yandarbiyev, Maskhadov, Basayev. It's all over," he said.

Dzhokhar Dudayev, Ichkeria's first president, was killed in a missile strike in April 1996.

Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, vice president, died in a car bombing in Qatar in 2004. Two Russian agents were later convicted of his killing in a local court.

Aslan Maskhadov was eliminated in a special service operation in Chechnya in March 2005.

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