Muslim Cleric Shot Dead in Russia’s Tatarstan

Posted July 19th, 2012 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A Muslim cleric from Russia's Tatarstan was shot dead and another was wounded in a bomb attack Thursday in the region's main city of Kazan.

The chief mufti (religious scholar) of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was wounded in a car bomb attack, and his former deputy, Valiulla Yakupov, was shot dead outside his home in what appear to be coordinated attacks.

President Vladimir Putin called the attacks “a serious signal” of rising tensions in the region. He ordered the country's security service to find and punish those responsible.

Both men were known for promoting moderate Islamic practices and fighting the spread of radicalism to Tatarstan from the more volatile Caucasus region in southern Russia.

The attack took place just before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Faizov was hospitalized and is out of danger. He said he had just learned that his deputy was killed when an explosion rocked his car. He was able to get away before more blasts set his vehicle aflame.