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Chechen Rebel Leader Dies in Explosion

The man who claimed responsibility for the bloody Beslan school siege is dead, according to the Russian government.

The state security chief said Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev was killed by Russian special forces as he and other rebels were planning an attack to coincide with the G8 summit of world leaders President Vladimir Putin is hosting this week in St Petersburg.

The country's most wanted man, Basayev had claimed responsibility for some of the bloodiest attacks in Russia in recent years, including the 2004 seizure of a school in Beslan.

Chechen rebels dispute the government's version of events, saying Basayev was killed in an accidental explosion.

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Gregory Feifer
Gregory Feifer reports for NPR from Moscow, covering Russia's resurgence under President Vladimir Putin and the country's transition to the post-Putin era. He files from other former Soviet republics and across Russia, where he's observed the effects of the country's vast new oil wealth on an increasingly nationalistic society as well as Moscow's rekindling of a new Cold War-style opposition to the West.