Russia’s most wanted man, Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, has been killed. According to the FSB security agency, Basayev was killed together with other fighters in Ingushetia in southern Russia during an operation by special forces on Sunday night. Russian state television reported that he was killed when a truck blew up while rebels were loading it with explosives. He was reportedly sitting in a civilian car nearby. A senior Ingushetia official said Basayev had been identified by body parts, including his head and the artificial leg he had worn since losing his limb to a landmine six years ago.
FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev said Basayev was planning a terrorist attack in Ingushetia to coincide with this weekend’s G8 summit in St. Petersburg. Russian President Vladimir Putin has linked Basayev to violent attacks including one in 1995 in the southern town of Budyonnovsk.
Putin said: “This is deserved retribution against the bandits for our children in Beslan, in Budyonnovsk, for all these acts of terror they committed in Moscow and other Russian regions, including
Ingushetia and Chechnya.”
Putin has announced awards for the special forces involved. But a pro-rebel website said Basayev and three other militants died in an “accidental” explosion – denying Russian forces were involved.