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Syrian link suspected in Chechen murder in Ankara

The 2013 murder of a prominent ethnic Chechen in Ankara may have been a retribution for his opposition to Chechen involvement in the jihadist war in Syria.
Protestors hold images of Medet Unlu, a Chechen activist based in Turkey who was killed on May 22 as they protest his death outside the Russian embassy in Ankara on May 25, 2013. 
AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

ANKARA, Turkey — In a string of assassinations reminiscent of spy thrillers, six Chechen exiles were gunned down in Istanbul in 2008-11. The murders, blamed on Russian secret agents, were almost forgotten last year until a Turkish-born Chechen, a vocal advocate of Chechen independence and an influential figure in Turkey’s ethnic Caucasian community, was killed in his office in downtown Ankara. The suspicion quickly focused on Russia again.

But in a surprise twist more than a year later, the victim’s family and lawyer have asked the prosecution to follow a new line of inquiry: Medet Onlu, they suspect, was killed because he was an obstacle on the “jihadist highway” to Syria, opposed to Chechen rebels exiled in Turkey joining the war. They claim a systematic effort is underway to cover up the murder.

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