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Three dead in North Caucasus attacks: reports

Three people, including the imam of a local mosque, were killed Friday in separate attacks in Russia’s violent North Caucasus region, Russian news agencies reported.

The mosque leader was killed when a man fired on a crowd, while one policeman died in a bomb blast and a district administration chief was shot dead, the reports said.

“An unknown assailant opened fire with an automatic weapon on people headed to a mosque for prayer. One man was killed and one wounded,” a police source told Interfax.

The source said the man who died was an imam at a mosque in the village of Tarki in Dagestan.

In a separate bomb attack in the neighboring Ingushetia region, one policeman was killed and more than 10 others wounded, the agency reported.

The bomb was triggered in a groceries store after police arrived to investigate a shootout that had taken place there earlier.

“At the very moment when the investigators went into the grocery store an explosion went off… as a result, one policeman was killed and more than 10 others wounded,” a police source was quoted as saying.

Earlier Friday, the head of the Magaramkent district administration in Dagestan was shot dead when unknown assailants opened fire on his car at around 0730 GMT, RIA Novosoti said.

The driver of the official, Azadi Shikhbabayev, was also rushed to hospital with multiple bullet wounds. Shikhbabayev’s predecessor as district head was also murdered in an attack last November.

Ingushetia and Dagestan are part of the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus, which is the site of a violent insurgency pitting Russian forces against separatist rebels.

Attacks on pro-Moscow officials in the impoverished region are common and attributed both to the insurgency and to clan feuds.