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Chechen Rebels Vow to Continue Fight Despite Death of Leader


Chechen rebels are vowing to continue fighting for independence from Russia after the death of their leader in a clash Saturday.

Statements Sunday on separatist web sites confirmed that Muslim cleric Abdul Khalim Sadulayev was killed Saturday in a shootout with police east of the regional capital, Grozny. The pro-Moscow authorities in Chechnya say one of Sadulayev's aides sold information on his whereabouts to police.

One rebel web site said today "the death of even the most worthy will not weaken our jihad."

Sadulayev was little known outside Chechnya until he assumed the leadership of the rebel movement last year and began working to strengthen ties with Islamist fighters elsewhere in Russia's north Caucasus.

Sadulayev was the fourth rebel leader killed in 11 years of separatist warfare in the southern Russian region.

Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov says Saturday's operation was part of a major anti-terrorism sweep under way in the region. He also said the rebels were planning a terror attack in Chechnya to coincide with next month's G-8 summit in St. Petersburg.

In a separate development, Russian news reports say a militant identified as Timur Gayev was arrested today in Urus-Martan. Interfax news agency says police are hunting several suspected accomplices.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.