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Russian Officials Say Chechen Warlord Basayev is Dead


Russia's federal security service chief says Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev has been killed in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia. Basayev, the Kremlin's most wanted man, has been held responsible for Russia's deadliest terrorist attacks.

During a meeting in the Kremlin, broadcast on Russian television, Russia's top intelligence official, Nikolai Patrushev, told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Basayev was killed overnight during a special operation in the republic of Ingushetia, bordering Chechnya.

Patrushev said the operation became possible thanks to the Russian intelligence operatives' positions abroad, which, "helped to track down weapons shipments to Russia." He said several other rebels were also killed in the operation.

Vladimir Putin called the warlord's killing "deserved retribution for the children of Beslan" and other attacks in Russia in recent years.

In September 2004, several-dozen armed men took over a school in the town of Beslan, in North Ossetia, with more than 1,000 people inside. The siege ended in a bloodbath. Three-hundred-thirty-one people were killed, more than half of them children. Shamil Basayev claimed he was behind that attack, as well as other attacks in Russia, which left hundreds of people dead.

He led the first mass hostage-taking in the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk in 1995, and also claimed to be behind the seizing of a Moscow theater in 2002, during which 129 people died.

Nikoali Patrushev also said the rebels had hoped to "put political pressure on the Russian leadership" during the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg later this week, but did not elaborate.

Rebel-connected sources did not immediately comment on Russia's report of Basayev's death.