Chechen rebel leader Sadulayev killed

Police in Chechnya killed rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev during a special operation on Saturday, authorities said.

Sadulayev was killed in his hometown of Argun, the press service of Moscow-backed Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said. The city is about 15km east of the provincial capital, Grozny.

Kadyrov said that rebels under Sadulayev’s command were planning to stage a terror attack in Argun at the time of the summit of the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations hosted by Russia in St Petersburg in mid-July, the Interfax news agency reported.

An intelligence agent and a police officer were also killed in the operation, said Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main KGB successor agency, according to a statement.

Kadyrov said that a man from Sadulayev’s inner circle had tipped authorities on his whereabouts for 1 500 roubles ($55), Interfax reported. “He needed that money to buy a dose of drugs,” Kadyrov was quoted as saying.

Sadulayev had succeeded Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed by Russian forces in March 2005.
Sadulayev’s killing, if confirmed, would be further evidence that the rebels’ position is weakening in Chechnya even as Islamic-inspired insurgents have spread their influence across the volatile North Caucasus region.

Argun police chief Ali Tagirov said officers from the local police unit and a special police force acted on a tip and killed Sadulayev when he offered resistance.

NTV television reported from Argun that police also killed a militant who accompanied Sadulayev while two other rebel fighters managed to escape.

Further details on the operation were not immediately available.

“The terrorists have been virtually beheaded. They have sustained a severe blow, and they are never going to recover from it,” Interfax quoted Kadyrov as saying.

“We must decisively end international terrorism in the whole of the North Caucasus,” the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

Sadulayev, a fundamentalist field commander, was relatively unknown outside rebel circles. He had served as a judge of the Chechen rebels’ Shariat committee—an extension of the Islamic court established under Maskhadov when he was Chechnya’s elected president in the 1990s.

Chechnya’s separatist movement initially was rooted in nationalist sentiment, but in recent years has taken on a growing Islamic cast. Sadulayev had promoted efforts to spread the rebel movement beyond Chechnya’s borders in the so-called “Caucasus Front” and attack Russian forces across the poverty-stricken and

corruption-gripped south.

Ekho Moskvy radio had said Russian prosecutors considered him the main organiser of the 2001 kidnapping of Kenneth Gluck, of New York, who worked for Médécins Sans Frontières in southern Russia. Gluck was freed after 25 days.

The radio station also said Maskhadov had called Sadulayev the co-organiser of a 2004 raid on police and security installations in the Russian republic of Ingushetia, which killed about 90 people. - Sapa-AP

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