Russian security forces have killed a leader of an Islamist rebel group in the North Caucasus who was accused of plotting a botched suicide attack in Moscow and calling for more bombings.
Ibragimkhalil Daudov was found dead in a forest on Tuesday after being wounded at the weekend in a shootout when police stormed a nearby house where he was hiding in the mainly Muslim region of Dagestan, Kommersant newspaper reported.
Daudov escaped after the shootout, in which four gunmen were killed, but lost a lot of blood and froze to death, Kommersant quoted security officers as saying.
Russia's Anti-Terrorism Committee confirmed Daudov's death and said it had seized videos calling on fellow villagers to leave their families and undertake jihad, or Islamic holy war.
Believing that it was for him to decide who should live and who deserves to die, Daudov ... promised to do away with anyone who would not acknowledge the criminals' right to foster tyranny and lawlessness, it said in a statement.
Russia is struggling to contain a growing insurgency in the North Caucasus and is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, a city close to areas that have been hit by violence.
Daudov was a leader of the outlawed Caucasus Emirate, a rebel group that is fighting to carve out an Islamist state across the North Caucasus.
Its leader, Chechen-born Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on Moscow's Domodedovo airport which killed 37 people in January last year.
Russian investigators say Daudov brought his wife and another woman to Moscow in 2009 to carry out a suicide attack on Russians celebrating New Year's Eve near the Kremlin, but their bomb exploded hours earlier in a Moscow suburb. Daudov's wife was killed in the explosion and several people were arrested.
Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), said separately on Wednesday that 345 suspected rebels had been killed in the North Caucasus last year, including 48 leaders, Interfax news agency reported.
He said 365 terrorist crimes have been reported in the North Caucasus in 2011 compared with 779 in 2010.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Timothy Heritage)