Security forces have killed an Arab militant believed to be al-Qaida's top emissary to the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said.
Khaled Yusef Mukhammed al Emirat was among Russia's most wanted insurgents and participated in the planning of nearly all the suicide bomb attacks in the country in recent years, the agency said Friday.
Known by his code name Moganned, al Emirat had been in the North Caucasus since 1999 and was shot with another militant in a raid Thursday near the village of Serzhen-Yurt in Chechnya's southern mountains, it said in a statement carried by news agencies.
A web site sympathetic to the insurgency, Kavkazcenter.com, said later Friday that it had received confirmation of his death.
Officials say the insurgency depends on ideological and financial patronage from the Middle East and militant Islamist groups like al-Qaida, although analysts dispute the extent of those links.
The committee said al Emirat had been competing with insurgent leader Doku Umarov for power within the insurgency.
A suicide bomb attack claimed by the insurgent leader Doku Umarov killed 37 people at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in January. Twin suicide bomb attacks killed 40 on the Moscow metro in March 2010.
Meanwhile, hundreds of neo-Nazis rallied in Moscow on Saturday to protest the Kremlin's policies in the North Caucasus and call on forceful expulsion of non-Slavic migrants from Russia.
About 300 protesters, including activists from banned or unregistered groups that preach white supremacy, waved red-and-white flags with German Nazi eagles and chanted "Hail Russia! Stop feeding the Caucasus!" at the hourlong, City Hall-authorized gathering.