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CAUCASUS > Senior Muslim clerics targeted in Tatarstan

MOSCOW - The Associated Press

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Police experts examine the remains of the car of the Islamic leader of Russia’s main Muslim region of Tatarstan. AFP photo

Police experts examine the remains of the car of the Islamic leader of Russia’s main Muslim region of Tatarstan. AFP photo

The most senior Islamic official Valiulla Yakupov in Russia’s largely Muslim Tatarstan region was shot dead and another was wounded yesterday by a car bomb in separate attacks apparently related to the priests’ criticism of radical Islamists, law enforcement officials said.

Yakupov, the deputy to the Muslim province’s chief mufti, was gunned down as he left his house in regional capital of Kazan. Chief mufti Ildus Faizov was wounded in the leg after an explosive device ripped through his car in Kazan. Both clerics were known as critics of radical Islamist groups that advocate a strict version of Islam known as Salafism. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told that his agency was looking into the cleric’s professional activity as a possible reason for the attacks.

A Muslim leader from a neighboring region blamed local authorities for failing to thwart the assassination on Faizov by Islamic radicals. Muhammedgali Khuzin, mufti of the Perm region, told the Interfax news agency that he submitted a report in April to regional authorities about dangers related to the emergence of radical Islamist groups. “No due security measures have been taken,” Khuzin said.

In 2008, a court in Kazan sentenced a radical Islamist leader to life in prison for organizing a group that planned terrorist attacks in Tatarstan.

July/20/2012

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