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Muslim cleric killed in Russia's North Caucasus

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December 27, 2012 03:16 AM EST | AP

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ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — Police says a Muslim spiritual leader in Russia's republic of North Ossetia has been gunned down as he was driving home.

Local police spokesman Dmitry Zverev said Thursday that Ibragim Dudarov, North Ossetia's deputy mufti, died late Wednesday evening when assailants opened fire on his car.

Authorities said they suspect the killing is connected to Dudarov's religious activities.

Unlike other North Caucasus republics of Russia, North Ossetia, where Muslims are in a minority, has been largely spared the scale of Muslim insurgency that neighboring regions have witnessed for over a decade.

Muslim clerics are routinely targeted by militants in the North Caucasus for their moderate religious views.