Protestant pastor shot dead in Russia's Muslim Caucasus

16th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Protestant pastor was shot in the head at close range by an unknown assailant in Russia's troubled North Caucasus region of Dagestan, police said on Friday.

Artur Suleimanov, a pastor at the Pentecostal Hosanna Church in the largely Muslim region of Dagestan was shot outside his church in the city of Makhachkala and died from his wounds Thursday evening, regional police said.

The pastor was killed with a shot to the temple while seated in his parked Toyota car, police said in a statement on Friday.

Regional police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov told AFP authorities were looking at several motives for his killing, including his religious activities.

"Forces that want to sow fear in people's hearts stand behind the crime committed against a holy man," the leadership of the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith said in a statement on Friday.

Suleimanov's murder follows a series of attacks on officials in the volatile southern city in the past days.

A village leader was shot dead in broad daylight in Makhachkala on Wednesday and the body of a judge with gunshot wounds to his temple and the back of the head was found in his car in the same city on Saturday.

Dagestan is part of Russia's volatile North Caucasus, where authorities are struggling to quash a Muslim insurgency which Kremlin calls its biggest headache.

© 2010 AFP

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