Woman suicide bomber kills 6 in Dagestan

2012-08-28 19:56

Moscow - A female suicide bomber posing as a pilgrim killed a top Islamic scholar and at least five others in Russia's restive Muslim region of Dagestan.

President Vladimir Putin immediately reacted saying such attacks would fail to undermine Russia's spirit of religious tolerance.

The Caspian Sea region's interior ministry said the attack claimed the life of one of Dagestan's most respected religious leaders who defended moderate Islam against the rise of radical militancy.

The ministry said in a statement that a woman "posing as a pilgrim" walked into the home of Said Afandi and detonated a suicide belt.

"Six people died besides the suicide bomber," the Dagestani interior ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"These included Sheikh Said Afandi."

The attack came just a month after the chief cleric of Russia's main Muslim region of Tatarstan in central Russia survived an assassination attempt that claimed the life of his former deputy.

The targeted Tatarstan clerics and Afandi were all Sufis who promoted a form of Islamic tolerance and cooperation with the authorities backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

July's strike on a prosperous region that has been held up as an example of religious tolerance prompted Putin to call a top emergency security meeting and then deliver a series of big speeches preaching inter-ethnic peace.

Truth and justice

Putin delivered another such address only moments after Tuesday's attack during a planned visit to Tatarstan - a wealthy oil-producing region with a half-Muslim population of about four million.

"You cannot defeat the united, multi-ethnic and powerful Russian people," Putin said in nationally televised remarks.
"We have truth and justice on our side - and millions of people."

"And these are people who are not afraid, who cannot be frightened, and who know the value of peace," he added in the emotional appeal.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

But it comes the same week that Russia's most feared Islamist commander - the long-wanted warlord Doku Umarov of the Caucasus Emirate group - appointed two new top deputies in charge of Dagestan.

One was a new field commander directly responsible for orchestrating attacks against both Russian state and security targets as well as those who promote more tolerant Muslim religious views.