ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia – ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — The man suspected of organizing suicide bombings that killed 40 people on the Moscow subway in March was killed in a shootout with Russian security forces on Saturday, officials said.
Madomedali Vagabov was killed along with four others during a gunfight with special forces in the province of Dagestan, local police spokesman Vyacheslav Gadzhiyev told The Associated Press.
The suspects were killed when the house they they were holed up in caught fire, Gadzhiyev said.
The National Antiterrorism Committee told Russian news agencies that Vagabov was effectively second in command in the separatist insurgency in Russia's mountainous North Caucasus region. The head, Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility for the subway attacks, carried out by two female suicide bombers.
State television said one of the suicide bombers had been married to Vagabov. It showed the immediate aftermath of Saturday's clash, a smoldering, half-destroyed stone house in a picturesque valley. Security forces in camouflage paced around the bodies.
Umarov has evaded capture in the forested mountains of the region. He announced this month he was stepping down as leader, but later backtracked.
Russia has been fighting the insurgency since two wars in Chechnya in the last 15 years. Large-scale fighting ended years ago, but daily attacks on police and army troops still take place. Rights activists say the attacks are in part provoked by extra-judicial killings, torture, and kidnappings by local authorities under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The militants seek an Islamic emirate across the North Caucasus that adheres to Shariah law.
Associated Press writers Arsen Mollayev in Makhachkala, Russia and David Nowak in Moscow contributed to this report.