By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — A man purporting to be Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov says he is alive and well, a week after Russian media reports said he might have been killed in a Russian strike in the North Caucasus.
In a phone call to RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service, the man said he was “absolutely healthy.”
“There was an operation in which several mujahedin died,” the man added. “My death was announced too. They won’t receive any respite from me. I’m preparing my answer to them. They should expect news from me soon.”
RFE/RL correspondents say the man’s voice is recognizably Umarov’s, but there has been no independent confirmation.
Russia said 17 Islamist rebels were killed in the March 29 air strike in the Ingushetia region.
Officials said remains would undergo DNA testing to check whether Umarov — the leader of the North Caucasus insurgency and Russia’s most-wanted man — was among those killed.
A website with links to the militants, kavkazcenter.com, said on April 4 that Umarov had not been in the area of the bombing.