MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) — A warlord suspected to be behind multiple attacks in the North Caucasus and four of his accomplices have been killed in a police operation in Dagestan, local police said Sunday.
The five were killed late Saturday on the outskirts of the regional capital, Makhachkala, in a gunbattle with security forces, police spokeswoman Fatina Ubaydatova said.
Russian state television showed special and armored vehicles taking up positions to surround a two-story house nestled at the foot of mountains that flank Makhachkala to the west.
The regional office of the Russian Investigative Committee identified one of the five as 35-year old Rustam Aselderov, who was wanted for his suspected role in several attacks, including a double bombing in 2013 on a bus and at a train station in southern Russia that killed a total of 34 people.
Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, has become the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency following two separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya. Despite government efforts to clamp down on the insurgency, shootouts and bombings are routine.
Russian security agency FSB said in a statement on Sunday that Aselderov, although operating in Dagestan, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014. The FSB posted a long list of suicide attacks in Dagestan and bombings elsewhere that Aselderov was suspected to have masterminded including a foiled suicide attack by two women on Red Square in Moscow on New Year's Eve in 2010.