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Chechen warlord killed - Interior Ministry

RIA Novosti

04/04/2007 13:45

MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - A Chechen militant field commander, known as Amir Khairulla (Suleiman Imurzayev), has been killed in the North Caucasus republic, Russia's Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov vowed last month to eliminate all illegal armed groups in his republic within two months.

"Amir Khairulla, the so-called commander of the southeastern front, who was involved in a series of crimes and terrorist acts in the republic, has been eliminated in a special operation," a ministry source said.

He said Khairulla had been a close associate of Shamil Basayev, Chechnya's number one terrorist, who was killed in July 2006.

In March 2007, Chechen warlord Doku Umarov appointed Imurzayev "deputy prime minister of Ichkeria" (the name militants use for Chechnya).

The source said the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry conducted a joint operation at about 6 a.m. [2 a.m. GMT].

Chechnya's Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov confirmed the report.

He said another militant was killed in a separate operation in Chechnya's Grozny area, adding that his identify had not yet been established.

A source in the Chechen government said Imurzayev "led a group of about 60 militants" and had been involved in a bomb attack May 9, 2004 that killed Chechnya's first president, Akhmad Kadyrov.

Ramzan Kadyrov said Khairulla was "one of the bloodiest terrorists."

"That person assumed responsibility for the murder of my father and said that Ramzan Kadyrov would be next," he said.

Although the active phase of the North Caucasus antiterrorism campaign officially ended in 2001, periodic bombings and clashes between gunmen and federal troops still disrupt Chechnya and nearby regions, including Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Circassia.

Col.-Gen. Arkady Yedelev, a Russian deputy interior minister, said last month that the number of federal troops deployed in Chechnya would not be reduced until all armed groups were eliminated in the republic.

Col.-Gen. Nikolai Rogozhkin, commander-in-chief of the Interior Ministry Troops, said "some 70-90 armed groups, comprising a total of 600-800 militants, are still active in Chechnya."

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