Russia's counterterrorism agency says the leader of an al-Qaida-linked group operating in the Caucasus region of southern Russia has been killed by special forces.

Aliaskhab Kebekov took over the leadership of the Caucasus Emirate last year after the death of its founder, Doku Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for major attacks in Russia. Last month, the U.S. government added Kebekov to its list of global terrorists.

The Caucasus Emirate is a loose alliance of rebel groups seeking to create an independent Islamic state in the North Caucasus, a predominantly Muslim region that includes Chechnya and Dagestan.

Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee announced Monday that special forces killed Kebekov and two other suspected militants after trapping them inside a private home in Dagestan the day before.