Renowned Journalist Gunned Down in Dagestan

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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One of the best-known journalists in the Russian region of Dagestan has been shot dead.

Officials say Khadzhimurad Kamalov was leaving the offices of his weekly Chernovik newspaper when he was shot multiple times by a pistol-wielding gunman.

One of Kamalov's colleagues told NTV television he thought the shooting was a deliberate attempt to intimidate the staff.

Kamalov founded Chernovik in 2003. The paper has stirred controversy, investigating disappearances of people blamed on criminal groups and criticizing the government for its tactics in fighting the region's Islamist insurgency.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called Kamalov's death “a lethal blow to press freedom.” It called on Russian authorities to immediately investigate the killing and bring those responsible to justice.

Dagestan and neighboring Ingushetia and Chechnya experience almost daily shootings, which local officials blame on criminals and Islamist militants.

Islamist rebels have been fighting for an independent Islamic state in Russia's predominantly Muslim North Caucasus. The battles have continued after two Russian wars against the separatists in Chechnya.