Moscow: A prominent imam who discouraged youth from joining Islamic militants has been shot dead in his home in the strife-torn southern Russian republic of Dagestan, news reports said on Saturday.
Magomed Saiputdinov was slain by automatic gunfire in a nighttime attack near the Chechen-border town of Kizlyar, agencies quoted a spokesman for the local Interior Ministry as saying.
"He was widely known for his uncompromising stand against any forms of violence, condemning the murder of innocent people and other atrocities of the Chechen underground," Interfax quoted a police statement as saying.
Saiputdinov was the sixth Muslim religious leader to be killed in the republic in the past year, with the previous fatal attack occurring on November 01, 2010, RIA Novosti quoted the National Anti-Terror Committee as saying.
Dagestan has experienced some of the most deadly violence in Russia`s mostly Muslim southern periphery since peace was largely restored in neighbouring Chechnya just under a decade ago.
The Caspian Sea republic experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamists with links to Chechnya.
Fuelled by endemic poverty and corruption, the militants are seeking to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus.