MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) – A militant leader involved in organizing a deadly attack by a female suicide bomber in Russia’s violence-plagued North Caucasus republic of Dagestan was shot to death, officials said.
The leader of the “Caspian” group identified as Zaur Sheikhmagomedov was gunned down in the provincial capital of Makhachkala, after he opened fire on police officers, a representative of Dagestan’s Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti.
Anti-terrorism officials said that Sheikhmagomedov organized a deadly attack by a female suicide bomber earlier this year.The militant was “directly” involved in the planning of the May 25 attack in Machachkala, when a young woman named Madina Aliyeva blew herself up killing one and injuring at least 14 people, including two children and five police officers, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement.
Since 2000, at least two dozen women, most of them from the North Caucasus, have carried out suicide bombings in Russian cities and aboard trains and planes, according to The Associated Press. All were linked to an Islamic insurgency that spread throughout Dagestan and the predominantly Muslim Caucasus region after two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya, AP said.
The bombers are often called "black widows" in Russia because many are the widows, or other relatives, of militants killed by security forces. Islamic militants are believed to convince "black widows" that a suicide bombing will reunite them with their dead relatives beyond the grave.
updates with a statement and background on suicide attacks
Attacks on security forces, police and civilians occur regularly in Dagestan and other provinces of Russia’s North Caucasus, generated by ethnic, religious and political rivalries, as well as poverty and corruption.
The violence is also fed by an Islamist insurgency, which has been especially resilient in Dagestan and fueled a series of bloody post-Soviet separatist wars in the neighboring republic of Chechnya.