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Rebel U-turn

August 4, 2010

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has announced a sudden U-turn after saying earlier in the week that he was to step down. Umarov said the situation in the region made it impossible for him to relinquish control.

Militant Islamist leader Doku Umarov
Umarov had earlier said that he had grown tiredImage: picture alliance / dpa

Chechen rebel chief Doku Umarov has reversed a decision to step down, days after he announced he was renouncing control of his rebel Islamist movement.

Umarov, the self-styled "Emir of the Caucasus," announced his intentions in a video posted on the website You Tube on Wednesday.

"In connection with the situation shaping up in the Caucasus, I consider it impossible to step down as Emir of the Caucasus," said Umarov.

"Inshallah (God willing), this statement cancels out my previous statement," Umarov said.

The 46-year-old's group claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Moscow metro that killed 40 people earlier this year. He said in a video posted on Monday he had grown tired and would step aside for younger militant successor Aslambek Vadalov.

Violence intensifies

A decade after driving separatist rebels out of Chechnya, Moscow is battling Islamist insurgents in the region. The past year has seen a sharp rise in the number of gunfights and bombings in Chechnya as well as in neighboring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Rumors had been circulating earlier in the week that Umarov had been seriously injured or poisoned.

Umarov, who is wanted as a terrorist by the US government as well as by Moscow, took over the movement in 2006 from Shamil Basayev. Basayev was responsible for the 2004 school hostage siege in Beslan that killed more than 330 people.

Author: Richard Connor (Reuters/AFP)
Editor: Michael Lawton