Muslim scholar killed in Russia’s North Ossetia

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 27 December 2012
0

Muslim scholar killed in Russia’s North Ossetia

MOSCOW: Gunmen shot dead a Muslim scholar in the internal Russian republic of North Ossetia, investigators said yesterday, an attack that suggests militant violence in Russia's southern provinces is spreading to nearby regions.
Shootings and bomb attacks on police and officials are a near daily occurrence across much of Russia's restive North Caucasus, but violence in North Ossetia, a mainly Christian region, is unusual.
Gunmen shot dead 34-year-old Ibragim Dudarov, North Ossetia's deputy mufti, many times in the head at point blank range as he was driving late on Wednesday near the provincial capital of Vladikavkaz, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The killing, at least the sixth this year of a religious leader, is likely to inflame tensions.
Moscow is struggling to extinguish an insurgency that stems from its two devastating wars against separatists in Chechnya, just east of Ingushetia and North Ossetia, and has been fuelled by chronic unemployment, police brutality and poverty.
Militants fighting for a separate state in the mountainous region have increasingly targeted leaders who are backed by the Russian authorities.
"This man died for his faith. I think it is linked to his work," North Ossetia's top Muslim official Khadzhimurat Gatsalov told the Interfax news agency.
Two decades after a territorial dispute erupted into a brief war in 1992, there is also lingering tension between mostly Christian North Ossetia and mostly Muslim Ingushetia, but there was no indication the shooting was linked to that conflict.


UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

Updated 47 min 35 sec ago
0

UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

BACKARA- SWEDEN: The UN Security Council met in a secluded farmhouse on the southern tip of Sweden on Saturday in a bid to overcome deep divisions over how to end the war in Syria.
In a first for the Council, which normally holds its annual brainstorming session in upstate New York, the 15 ambassadors and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were this year invited to hold an informal meeting in Backakra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected on Sunday.
The farmhouse is the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations’ second secretary-general who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.
Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, just a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea, the farmhouse consists of four buildings around a courtyard and has been completely renovated in recent years.
The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.
With both New York and Damascus thousands of kilometers away, the Council is exploring “the means to strengthen and make more effective United Nations peacekeeping missions,” the Swedish government said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom welcomed the decision to hold the meeting in Sweden, “where there is a long tradition of peaceful conflict prevention and resolution.”
But as she arrived in Backakra on Saturday morning she warned against being too hopeful the Syrian issue would be resolved over the weekend.
“Hopefully there will be some new ideas on the table and I think it’ll be on those tracks: the humanitarian situation, the chemical weapons,” she said.
But “not even the beautiful settings like these can solve all the problems,” the minister added.
The country’s deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau said the idea was to foster dialogue and “relaunch momentum” with “humility and patience,” a week after the air strikes by France, Britain and the United States against the Syrian regime.
“It’s important for the council’s credibility,” Skau told reporters in New York.
While the war in Syria is not the only topic of the deliberations, it is high up on the agenda because it was an issue that divided council members deeply in recent months.
Skau said Backakra was a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.