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Chechen Leader Killed in Qatar Explosion - 2004-02-13

A former Chechen leader who has been linked to the al-Qaida terror network was killed Friday in a car explosion in the Gulf state of Qatar.

The interior ministry of Qatar said former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was returning from Friday prayers at a Doha mosque when his car exploded.

The former separatist leader of Chechnya was seriously injured in the blast and later died of his wounds. His son was wounded.

Television footage showed a pool of blood next to the charred wreck of his vehicle. Police and bomb-sniffing dogs were investigating the scene.

Mr. Yandarbiyev served as vice president of Chechnya, and was acting president from 1996 to 1997. He had been living in exile for the past three years.

Russia has branded Mr. Yandarbiyev a terrorist, and put him on its most wanted list. Russian intelligence officials quoted by the Tass news agency said they had nothing to do with Mr. Yandarbiyev's death. The agency said the intelligence service blames the Chechen's death on financial quarrels between extremists.

Last year, the United Nations added Mr. Yandarbiyev's name to its list of people with alleged links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, and the U.S. Treasury seized his financial assets in the United States.

Mr. Yandarbiyev had denied any such links.