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Journalist killed in Caucasus

MOSCOW: A television news presenter has been shot dead in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus, while a transportation official in the same region barely escaped an attempt on his life, authorities said yesterday.
The two incidents occurred within several hours of each other in the city of Nalchik, the regional center of the Kabardino-Balkaria region, although it was not clear whether they were linked.
The 28-year-old journalist Kazbek Gekkiyev was gunned down in central Nalchik on Wednesday evening at about 9 p.m. as he was returning from work, the regional interior ministry said.
Gekkiyev was a news presenter at the regional branch of the state channel.
Unknown assailants shot him three times, and the journalist died on the spot, said the Moscow-based Investigative Committee.
“The investigation considers... this brazen crime was a warning to other journalists who are reporting on the results of the fight against the bandit underground groups operating in the region,” the committee said.
Gekkiyev’s employer said it was cancelling all of its entertainment programs to mourn him.
“Two men approached him and asked: ‘Are you the television presenter?’” a woman introduced by the television channel as Gekkiyev’s relative said, quoting a witness of the murder.
He answered that he was, and the men shot him with an automatic gun, the woman said.
Gekkiyev never reported on militant activities or counter-terrorism operations, and only worked as a news presenter for the past six months, the report said.
Assailants also targeted yesterday the regional deputy transportation minister Vladislav Dyachenko, whose car exploded when he was getting into it to go to work at 9:20 a.m., Russian news agencies quoted police sources as saying.
Dyachenko was only lightly wounded as a result of the blast, the reports said.
The North Caucasus sees near daily attacks that officials blame on militants seeking to establish an Islamic state across the region.
In the past, Kabardino-Balkaria has been less affected by the violence than Chechnya and Dagestan, where a prominent opposition journalist, Khadzhimurad Kamalov, was murdered last December.