Russian soccer player killed by machine gun fire

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A 20-year-old Russian soccer player was shot while driving in the volatile village in North Caucasus, highlighting security concerns for the 2018 World Cup.

Gasan Magomedov, a 20-year-old soccer player for the Russian Anzhi Makhachkala club, was shot and killed while driving into his home village of North Caucasus Saturday night.

According to The Associated Press, Magomedov's car was sprayed by machine gun fire. He died from his wounds while be transported to a nearby hospital, according to a statement released by Anzhi.

There have been no arrests and there were no reports of other casualties, but the club said there was no way that Magomedov could have been targeted for anything he had done to provoke some sort of retaliation.

"One thing can be said with confidence -- Magomedov could not have provoked anything like this in any way," the statement said.

Anzhi is based in the Dagestan region, where there is a long-running Islamist insurgency, a place where gun battles between rebels and security forces are common.

Anzhi, which was relegated to the second tier in Russia's domestic league last season, has had a policy of having its star players -- such as striker Samuel Eto'o -- in Moscow to avoid the security risks in Dagestan.

Dagestan is on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, east of the Black Sea. Its capital city of Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea is more than 1,100 miles southeast of Moscow.

The death of Magomedov again calls attention to the instability in parts of Russia in the run up to the nation's role as host of the 2018 World Cup.The tournament will be held in 11 cities, none of which is closer than 500 miles to Makhachkala. Elista, located near the northern boundary of Dagestan, is 293 miles from Volvograd, which is one of the host cities.

Russia is proposing conducting World Cup matches in two venues in Moscow -- Luzhniki Stadium and Otkrytie Arena -- as well as in Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi and Yekaterinburg.

A leading member of the German parliament, Michael Fuchs, was leading calls last year to have Russia stripped of the 2018 World Cup, but the German government ultimately opted not to initiate such a request formally.

Those calls came in the wake of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine, a flight that was shot down by Russian separatists, according to American and German intelligence reports. All 298 people on board were killed.

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