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    Authorities in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Dagestan have pledged to take all possible steps to arrest and punish the killers of Muslim theology professor Maksud Sadikov.

    Authorities in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Dagestan have pledged to take all possible steps to arrest and punish the killers of Muslim theology professor Maksud Sadikov.

    Sadikov, the rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations in Dagestani capital Makhachkala, and his nephew were shot by unknown assailants near his home on Tuesday.

    "The murder of Maksud Sadikov is an insult to Dagestani society, a cynical attempt to disrupt religious and civil dialogue, threaten people, and destabilize the situation in the republic," the authorities said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "We declare that the Dagestani authorities will take all measures to ensure the murderers of Maksud Sadikov and Zalimhan Musayev face lawful and just punishment," the statement said.

    Sadikov was one of the founders of the first academic institutions in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region to offer both secular and religious teachings.

    He had been the rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations since 2003 and tried to promote education as the greatest weapon in the fight against religious extremism.

    He also headed a project to translate the Koran into Russian and the editorial board of the Imam Shamil encyclopedia. He was involved in politics and held various federal government posts in the 1990s.

    Terrorist attacks and shootings are common in the North Caucasus, were the Kremlin is fighting an Islamist insurgency, which led to two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s.

    Moscow admits that mainly-Muslim Dagestan presents the biggest challenge to federal authorities at present.

    MAKHACHKALA, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

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