Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

South Russian ex-mayor shot dead

North Ossetia map

A former mayor of Vladikavkaz, in Russia's troubled North Caucasus, has been shot dead in his car, police say.

Kazbek Pagiyev's car came under a hail of bullets, killing him and his driver, in Vladikavkaz, the capital of Russia's republic of North Ossetia.

Mr Pagiyev stood down as deputy prime minister in North Ossetia last week, Russian news agencies report.

He served as mayor until December 2007, when he was replaced by Vitaly Karayev, who was killed by a gunman last month.

Mr Pagiyev had been mayor for five years in North Ossetia, which lies near Chechnya, and has been plagued by gangland and militant violence in recent years.

North Ossetia's First Deputy Interior Minister Soslan Sikoyev said he received a call about Mr Pagiyev's murder at 1050 (0750 GMT) on Wednesday.

North Ossetia was the scene of the Beslan school siege in 2004, in which pro-Chechen militants seized schoolchildren and teachers, and wired up bombs in the school. It ended with the deaths of more than 300 people when explosions erupted and Russian troops stormed the school.

North Ossetia has tense relations with neighbouring Ingushetia, that stem from an outbreak of sectarian violence in the 1990s.

Ingushetia itself suffers almost daily shoot-outs and explosions.

The Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia - scene of a brief war between Russia and Georgia in August - also borders on North Ossetia. Thousands of Russian troops remain in South Ossetia.

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