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Russia judge shot dead in North Caucasus province

A Russian judge was killed Tuesday outside his home in the North Caucasus province of Kabardino-Balkaria [BBC backgrounder], according to Russian authorities. District judge Dzhulber Bykov was shot several times [Reuters report] by gunmen suspected to be Islamic insurgents and died at the scene. The Russian government has faced a growing insurgency in the Northern Caucasus, including deadly attacks on government officials in the provinces of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia [JURIST news archive]. Violence has not been as frequent in Kabardino-Balkaria, but has shown a recent increase in attacks. Government authorities blame the increased violence on Muslim rebels, but government opponents blame increasingly harsh policing tactics, including the alleged abductions, beatings and killings [advocacy report, PDF] of suspected militants. Police are still searching for Bykov's assailants.

In June 2009, Aza Gazgireyeva, deputy head of the Supreme Court in Russia's Ingushetia province [official website, in Russian; BBC backgrounder] was shot dead [JURIST report] while taking her children to school in the town of Nazran. It is believed that Gazgireyeva may have been killed for her role in investigating an attack [RTTNews report] on Ingush police forces by Chechen militants in 2004. Gazgireyeva's death came one week after the interior minister of the nearby region of Dagestan was shot dead. In April 2008, another deputy head of the Supreme Court in Ingushetia, Khasan Yandiyev, was shot and killed [JURIST report].

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