Three Chechens killed in Turkey: reports

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Three Chechens, including a leading commander of Islamist Chechen insurgents, have been shot dead in Istanbul, local media reported Saturday.

Unidentified assailants in a car opened fire on Friday on Musaevi Berkkhazh, Rustam Altemirol, and Zavrbek Amriev in the street, the daily Milliyet reported.

Berkkhaz, 33, was the most important rebel commander living out of Chechnya and the other two victims were his bodyguards, daily Sabah reported. Berkkhazh was in Turkey to receive medical treatment for war wounds, media reports said.

The slain Chechens were allegedly from the troops of Doku Umarov, the seperatist Chechen leader who is said to be behind a number of deadly attacks against Russia, including the Moscow airport bombing in January and the metro attack in March 2010.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

After a second war in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.

Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency, with the unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus.

© 2011 AFP

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