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Missing hunter found dead in Dagestan

October 31, 2011, 12:49 UTC+3

His body was found with gunshot wounds in the woods near a militants’ base

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MAKHACHKALA, October 31 (Itar-Tass) — The body of a hunter who went missing two days ago has been found in the Buinaksk district of Dagestan. His body was found with gunshot wounds in the woods near a militants’ base, the republic’s Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass on Monday.

“A resident of the Ishkarty village reported to the Buinaksk district police department that on October 29 he went hunting with his fellow villager Ustarkhanov and lost him,” the Interior Ministry said. As a result of a search operation Ustarkhanov was found in the woodland with gunshot wounds in the chest and head, five 7.62 mm submachine gun cartridges were also found at the site. A dug-out made for four people with large quantities of food products, camouflage and civilian clothes, religious literature, as well as a flash card with photographs of members of illegal armed groups was found 25 metres from the murder scene. A summer militants’ base was found 400 metres from the scene. A bag with plenty of ammunition of various calibres and grenade launcher rounds were found nearby.

According to investigators, the dug-out, summer base and everything that was in them belongs to gunmen of the Buinaksk sabotage and terrorist group.

Criminal proceedings have been instituted into the hunter’s murder and discovery of the militants’ camps under the RF Criminal Code articles “murder,” “illegal turnover of weapons and ammunition” and “membership in illegal armed groups.”

Dagestan has been a scene of low-level Islamic insurgency, occasional outbreaks of separatism, ethnic tensions and terrorism since the 1990s. According to International Crisis Group, the militant Islamist organisation Shariat Jamaat is responsible for much of the violence. Much of the tension is rooted in an internal Islamic conflict between traditional Sufi groups advocating secular government and more recently introduced Salafist teachers preaching the implementation of Sharia law in Dagestan.

Violence in Dagestan today is mainly caused by jihadi fighters, not inter-ethnic tensions. Although competition for land and political appointments often follows ethnic lines, the republic’s ethnic complexity has neutralised tensions by encouraging allegiances between groups and has prevented the emergence of a dominant one. Conflict between Avars and Dargins, nevertheless, remains a possibility, especially after an Avar, Mukhu Aliyev, became president. Electoral reforms in 2006 sought to “de-ethnicise” politics by ending ethnic electoral districts and introducing a general voting list. They were put to the test in the March 2007 parliamentary elections and appeared to be a relative success: the elections were less an inter-ethnic competition then a personal duel between Aliyev and Said Amirov, a Dargin, for political and economic power.

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