MOSCOW, March 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russian and US officials on Wednesday declined to confirm the death of a prominent Chechen warlord who had threatened to attack last month's Sochi Olympics.
International media reported Tuesday that a militant group in Russia’s North Caucasus, the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, had announced the death of founder Doku Umarov.
Umarov, who claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in Russia, has been reported dead previously, but Tuesday’s announcement was the first time the warlord’s own organization confirmed the news.
A spokesperson for the Russian National Counter-Terrorism Committee said Wednesday that the country’s special services had no information on Umarov’s death and do not comment on such reports.
A representative for the US National Security Council likewise told ABC News the council cannot confirm the report.
The United States announced in 2011 a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the location of Umarov.
In January, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Chechen militant leader would be considered alive until special services provided strong evidence of his death.
Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, claimed in January that intercepted communications between militants had provided new evidence of Umarov's death.
“Umarov has been dead for a long time. We are just searching for his body… I state officially that Umarov poses no danger to the Chechen nation,” Kadyrov said.
Ukraine’s far-right nationalist leader Dmitry Yarosh was arrested in absentia earlier this month for calling on Umarov to help fight against the “Russian occupation of Ukraine,” saying that Ukrainians and natives of Russia's North Caucasus shared “spilled blood.”