Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Russian mayor shot and killed in restive region

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia – The mayor of a major city in Russia's troubled North Caucasus was shot and killed Wednesday in the latest violence to hit a region roiled by years of insurgency and war, officials said.

Vladikavkaz Mayor Vitaly Karayev was shot as he got into his car to go to work, said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's top investigative body. He died shortly afterward in hospital.

Ekho Moskvy radio cited unnamed law enforcement officials as saying that Karayev was shot once in the heart, most likely by a sniper.

Karayev had been mayor for less than a year. His deputy was wounded earlier this year when a bomb went off in his car, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Regional President Teimuraz Mamsurov said he was unaware of a motive for the killing, the Interfax news agency reported. There has been turmoil in city politics in recent weeks, with several deputies quitting the city legislature after failing to elect a chairman.

Vladikavkaz is the capital of North Ossetia, which neighbors Chechnya in Russia's long-troubled North Caucasus.

The region is home to the town of Beslan, where more than 330 people died after a nearly three-day hostage standoff at a school. Earlier this month, 12 people died when a bomb detonated at a Vladikavkaz bus stop.

North Ossetia borders Georgia, which fought a short war with Russia in August. It also borders the Russian region of Ingushetia, and tension persists after ethnic Ossetians and Ingush fought a 1992 war over territorial claims.

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