Page last updated at 23:07 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Leading Ingush activist shot dead

By Sean Fanning
BBC News


A leading opposition activist from Ingushetia has been shot dead in the latest act of violence in Russia's North Caucasus region.

Maksharip Aushev's car came under fire on a road near Nalchik, about 160km (100 miles) west of Grozny.

The North Caucasus has seen a recent upsurge in violence.

Hundreds of people - rebels, security force personnel, ordinary civilians and human rights activists - have been killed this year.

Clan loyalty

Simmering conflicts blight the mainly Muslim regions of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

In Ingushetia, the president's motorcade was bombed in June, leaving him severely injured.

And a suicide bomb attack there in August killed more than 20 people.

Almost daily there are reports of deaths, kidnappings and clashes with rebels in the region.

In April, Russia declared it had successfully completed its military campaign in Chechnya - where it fought two wars against Muslim separatist rebels.

But lower-level violence there has continued and is blamed by local authorities for fuelling clashes in neighbouring territories.

Moscow, which has poured thousands of troops into the region, puts the violence down to rebels bent on creating an Islamic state.

But human rights groups accuse Russian forces of brutality, acting with impunity and increasing the violence in a region steeped in traditions of clan loyalty and blood vengeance.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to wipe out the insurgents, but critics warn that without a change in approach, Russia could lose control of the North Caucasus.

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