Rebel leader 'alive' after Russian air strike: website

4th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The leader of the North Caucasus insurgency, whom Russian officials have said was probably killed in an airstrike last week, is alive and unharmed, a website with links to militants said Monday.

Doku Umarov, 46, who heads the Caucasus Emirate rebel group, is "alive and well. He is not wounded and could not be harmed because he was not in the area of the bombing," the website said.

Russian security forces on March 29 carried out an air strike on a militant base in the region of Ingushetia, officials said, adding some 17 people were killed in the raid.

Umarov's right hand man Supyan Abdullayev, his wife, and his doctor were among those killed, officials said.

Remains will undergo DNA testing to check whether Umarov was killed along with his close allies, officials said Friday, with some sources saying that the probability that he died in the strike was about 75 percent.

Umarov, whose Caucasus Emirate rebel group aims to enforce Islamic rule across the Northern Caucasus, has claimed responsibility for a bombing on the Moscow metro one year ago and a suicide attack at the capital's Domodedovo airport in January.

The leader of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said Monday that Umarov could have gone into hiding, adding that there was no information about whether his remains had been identified.

"He is in hiding somewhere, that's clear. I do not rule out that he could be in Ingushetia," Yevkurov told the Interfax news agency. denied that a woman who was killed in the airstrike was Umarov's wife and said that the number of the dead delivered to a local morgue was 10 people, not 17, citing a source.

It has confirmed that Umarov's henchman Abdullayev was killed.

The website is used by rebels to post videos and voice opposition against the Russian government, whose officials it calls kafirs, or non-believers.

The Kremlin fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s, and the violence has since spread into the nearby regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.

© 2011 AFP

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