Muslim cleric shot dead in Russia’s Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) — Police in the southern Russian province of Dagestan say a Muslim cleric was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.

The shooting of Imam Ilyas Ilyasov was the latest in a string of attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim clerics in Dagestan, the center of an Islamic insurgency that has spread across the North Caucasus region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. The insurgency is led by Salafis, who follow a more fundamentalist form of Islam.

Police spokeswoman Fatina Ubaidatova said Sunday that a gunman shot the imam the previous evening as he was getting into his car and also badly wounded his driver before fleeing.

Investigators said Ilyasov had received threats but did not specify from whom.

Shootings, bombings and police security raids occur on a near daily basis in Dagestan.

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