Gunman kills supreme court judge in Russia's Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:59pm EST

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MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) - A gunman killed a senior judge in the center of the capital of Russia's violence-plagued Dagestan province on Tuesday, law enforcement officials said.

The attacker opened fire on Magomed Magomedov, from Dagestan's Supreme Court, at close range and fled the scene in Makhachkala, a spokesman for the regional branch of Russia's Investigative Committee said.

Mostly Muslim Dagestan, in the volatile North Caucasus region, is beset by frequent shootings and bomb attacks, many targeting police, state officials or moderate clerics.

Most of the violence is blamed on an Islamist insurgency stemming from post-Soviet separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya.

Some of the violence in Dagestan, on the Caspian Sea, is also linked to business disputes and tension between rivals in a province inhabited by dozens of ethnic groups.

Militants in the North Caucasus say they are fighting for a separate Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia's southern border. Rights activists say the insurgency is fuelled by poverty and anger at police tactics.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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