MOSCOW/VLADIKAVKAZ, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – A deputy mufti in North Ossetia was shot dead in an attack that could be linked to his profession, local officials said on Thursday.
Ibragim Dudarov was found dead inside his car on a road near the North Caucasus republic’s capital of Vladikavkaz, a spokesman for the local Investigative Committee said.
North Ossetia’s mufti Khadzhi-Murat Gatsalov said that the attack took place around 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, as his 34-year-old deputy, Dudarov, was driving home. “He was shot at close range. Five shots were fired.”
Investigators said on Thursday that they were currently considering different motives for the crime, from his professional activities to a family dispute. Gatsalov insisted that Dudarov had been attacked for his work as a cleric.
“This man died for his faith. I think it is linked to his work,” Gatsalov said. “Someone doesn’t want this kind of Islam in North Ossetia,” he said, without elaborating on who could be behind the murder. He added that his deputy was “a peaceful man.”
Gatsalov said that Dudarov had taken some time off from his work with the Spiritual Board of Muslims in the North Caucasus, the republic’s leading Muslim organization promoting moderate Islam, for personal reasons: his mother was ill and his daughter was born under a month ago.
A criminal case was opened on charges of murder and illegally possessing a firearm.
Attacks by radical Islamists on senior Muslim clerics have become more frequent in Russia’s republics in recent years.
In August, Muslim cleric and prominent Sufi sheikh Said Atsayev, 74, was killed in a suicide bombing in the volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan. Earlier in July, the head mufti in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, Ildus Faizov, was injured in a car bomb attack, hours after his former deputy was shot dead.