Man tries to kill Chechen exile in Istanbul: group

10th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

An armed man tried to kill a Chechen cleric living in exile in Istanbul at the weekend, less than a month after three Chechen militants were shot dead, media and an activist group said Monday.

The alleged assassin tried to shoot Shemseddin Batukayev, a onetime senior cleric in the Caucasus republic, on Saturday at his house, the IMKANDER Islamist aid organisation said in a statement.

The pro-Turkish government daily Sabah said the would-be assassin was a 26-year-old Chechen who asked for an appointment with Batukayev during which he pulled out a gun equiped with a silencer, but was stopped from shooting by two men.

Batukayev is a onetime head of sharia courts in Chechnya who fled the republic after a second war with Russia ended with a pro-Kremlin administration in charge.

The attempted killing marked the latest in a series of violent incidents targetting opponents of Chechnya's pro-Kremlin regime.

On September 16 senior militant Musaevi Berkkhazh was shot dead with two bodyguards as he left an Istanbul mosque in the fourth such killing in four years.

The Chechen community in Istanbul puts the blame for the killings on Russia, which in the past has also been accused of being behind the 2009 murders of exiled Chechen militants in Dubai and Vienna.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war between 1994 and 1996 against rebels seeking Chechen independence.

Following a second war in Chechnya in 1999, after which Moscow installed a former rebel-turned-Kremlin supporter at the helm of the restive republic, the militants turned more Islamist.

Since the end of major military operations in 2000, Chechen militants have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency, with the unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus.

© 2011 AFP

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