Gunmen kill spokesman of Dagestan leader: official

28th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday killed the spokesman of the leader of Dagestan, the latest killing of a moderate Muslim figure to rock the unrest-plagued Russian region, investigators said.

The attackers fired on Garun Kurbanov, the head of the press service of Dagestan leader Magomedsalam Magomedov just after 8:00 am (0400 GMT), the Russian investigative committee said in a statement.

"He died from his wounds on the scene. His driver was also killed," the statement said, adding the gunmen then disappeared from the area using an escape car.

It appeared that Kurbanov was emerging from his home in the main Dagestan city of Makhachkala and walking towards his official vehicle which was parked outside.

Dagestan, a Muslim Caspian Sea region known for its ancient culture and tapestry of ethnic groups, experiences almost daily violence officials blame on militants seeking to establish an Islamic state across the Russian Caucasus.

Kurbanov was a senior official who had served in the Russian information ministry from 2000-2004 as well as information minister of Dagestan from 2008.

He was named Magomedov's spokesman in April 2010 and had also headed the regional television channel in Dagestan.

"Garun was a peaceful man who was in favour of dialogue and an opponent of extremism," Magomedov told a meeting of top security officials in comments posted on his website. "It is a great loss for us."

"It is unacceptable that criminals can carry out such brutal murders in broad daylight in our region," he added.

The killing came less than two months after Maksud Sadikov, a prominent Muslim university professor who criticised radical Islamists, was shot dead in the yard of his home in Makhachkala.

Earlier this month gunmen shot dead the deputy commander of the OMON special police unit, Shamil Murtuzaliyev, in broad daylight in Makhachkala.

Magomedov said Dagestan was working hard to improve its weak economy, which many experts believe feeds extremism in one of Russia's poorest regions.

"But the terrorists want to destroy the unity of our peoples and destroy Dagestan. They will get nothing and we will be victorious," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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