Militant leader says all Russia is a "battleground"
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The leader of an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus said Osama bin Laden's death would not stop violence and hinted at more attacks, calling Russia a "battleground" in an interview released on Tuesday.
A decade after federal forces drove separatists from power in his native Chechnya, Doku Umarov leads an insurgency seeking to carve out a "Caucasus Emirate" comprising the war-scarred province and other mainly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.
Umarov has claimed responsibility for attacks elsewhere in Russia, including a suicide bombing that killed 37 people at Moscow's busiest airport in January and twin bombings that killed 40 on Moscow's metro in March 2010.
"Today the battlefield is not just Chechnya or the Caucasus Emirate, but the whole of Russia," he said in an interview posted on insurgency-affiliated site kavkazcenter.com.
In a video posted in February, Umarov said Russia would face "a year of blood and tears" if it refused to abandon its North Caucasus territories.
In the interview posted on Tuesday, Umarov said the killing this month of bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader behind the September 11, 2001 airliner attacks in the United States, would not stop Islamist insurgencies.
"By all indications, it is clear that the world is in a position in which the death of jihadi leaders will not stop the revival of Islam," he said.
The Kremlin-backed leader of Ingushetia, a province adjacent to Chechnya, said earlier this month that bin Laden's death would weaken Islamist militants in Russia.
(Reporting by Thomas Grove; editing by Andrew Roche)
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