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Chechen warlord says he killed pro-Moscow leader
Updated: 2004-05-17 17:04

Russia's most wanted man, Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, claimed responsibility Monday for assassinating the region's pro-Moscow leader and threatened to kill more officials, including the Russian prime minister.

Akhmad Kadyrov  [Reuters]
Akhmad Kadyrov was killed on May 9 by a bomb at a World War II victory parade in an attack that damaged President Vladimir Putin's peace plan for the mountainous Muslim province.

Moderate rebels distanced themselves from the attack. But Basayev, who has been behind many of the major Chechen attacks on Russian targets in the past 10 years, said he had ordered the killing after a ruling by an Islamic court.

"Through the kindness of Allah, the Chechen people on May 9 celebrated a double holiday -- that of the victory over fascism and a small but very important victory over Russia," he said in a statement on rebel Web site www.kavkazcenter.com.

"Our mujahideen, as part of operation 'Retribution', carried out the special operation and fulfilled an order by the Shariat court in relation to the national traitors Kadyrov and Isayev."

Hussein Isayev, head of Chechnya's State Council, was also killed in the explosion along with five others.

Mourners surround the body of assassinated Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov during his funeral in his home village of Tsentoroi, May 10, 2004 as seen in this Russian television image. [Reuters]
It was one of the most visible rebel successes in a decade of conflict between separatists and Russian forces that has smashed Chechen infrastructure and killed tens of thousands.

Putin claims the region is returning to normal. But troops and police die daily in rebel attacks.

Basayev, believed to have organized a string of suicide bombings across Russia last year that killed more than 300 people, vowed to stage more assassination attempts against top officials -- and mentioned the Russian prime minister.

"We are interested in who will be prime minister of Russia... if, through the kindness of Allah, we successfully conduct special operation Moska-2," he said.

It was not clear if he was referring to present prime minister Mikhail Fradkov or some other head of government in the future.

After the murder of Kadyrov, central figure in Putin's peace plan, the Kremlin sent a high-level team to Grozny to kick-start reconstruction efforts. It has to come up with a new plan by June.

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