July 10, 2006

Basayev 'killed'

Shamil Basayev, who was the guiding hand behind the appalling Beslan siege and much else, has been killed, according to the Russian government. As leader of the breakaway Chechen rebel forces, he was Russia’s most wanted man, and it's an extraordinary act of timing that appears to have led to his death on the eve of the G8 summit in Moscow.

More than 300 people -- half of them children -- died at Beslan. Basayev was also thought to be responsible for the Moscow theatre siege of 2002, in which 129 people died. Russian special forces killed him overnight in Ingushetia, according to the head of Russian state security.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, described Basayev's killing as "deserved retribution".

The Chechen leader appeared on Channel 4 News last year in his first broadcast comments about Beslan, in which he justified the killing, =saying "How can they be innocent? Russians are accomplices in this war. It is just they don't all have weapons in their hands."


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