Russia seeks to confirm death of rebel leader with DNA tests
Russia will carry out DNA tests to determine whether the leader of North Caucasus Islamist insurgency Doku Umarov was killed in an air strike, officials said Friday.
Russian security forces on Tuesday carried out an air strike on a militant base in the North Caucasus region of Ingushetia, killing 17 people, among which are Umarov's right hand man Supyan Abdullayev, his wife, and his doctor.
"Therefore there is a high chance that Umarov has also been eliminated in this operation," a source in Ingushetia's police force told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Two bodies have been sent to Moscow for DNA tests that will take "up to three weeks," he said.
Umarov, 46, heads the Caucas Emirate rebel group, which aims to establish Islamic rule across the Northern Caucasus and has claimed many attacks in Russia, among them the blast in Domodedovo airport in January that killed 37.
Russian armed forces have announced the death of Umarov many times over the past decade, but the claims were denied each time as the militant chief recorded and posted a new video on the Internet.
Kavkazcenter.com, a website with connections to militant groups, confirmed that Supyan Abdullayev was dead.
Abdullayev, also known as Amir Supyan, was involved in the Chechen separatist movement since the early 1990s including as a minister in the separatist government of Aslan Maskhadov.
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