MOSCOW, August 3 (RIA Novosti) – A Muslim cleric was killed Saturday in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, police said.
Unidentified assailants shot at Ilyas Ilyasov’s car in Dagestan’s capital city of Makhachkala and got away, a republican police officer told RIA Novosti.
The officer did not say whether the killing was related to imam’s job.
Ilyasov is the third cleric attacked this year in Dagestan, according to the Kavkazky Uzel news website.
In July, a rabbi was hospitalized with gunshot wounds in the southern city of Derbent, and in March, an imam was gunned down in the eastern village of Gubden, it said.
Eight more Muslim clerics, including the head of a powerful Sufi brotherhood, were killed in Dagestan in 2012, it said. Most of them were opposed to Salafism, an austere, militant sect of Islam whose opponents want to establish an independent Islamist state in Russia's Northern Caucasus and other regions with a sizable Muslim population.
An Islamist insurgency, once confined largely to the republic of Chechnya, has spread across the North Caucasus in recent years.
Attacks on security forces, police and civilians are reported regularly in the neighboring republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.