(Compass Direct News) – A pastor in the Russian republic of Dagestan known for founding the biggest Protestant church in the region and for successfully reaching out to Muslims has been killed by unidentified gunmen, local authorities have confirmed. Artur Suleimanov, 49, pastor of Hosanna Christian Church in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, was shot on the evening of July 15 while leaving his church building. The identity of the shooters remains unclear, but in the weeks leading up to the killing Dagestan media broadcast calls for people to take measures against Suleimanov because he was too “active” and converted ethnic Muslims. According to a letter Suleimanov wrote to Compass several years ago, 80 percent of the congregation is made up of former Muslims. The church distributes food and other aid to residents of the poverty-ridden country. His death follows the shooting of Orthodox priest Daniil Sisoev of St.Thomas church in Moscow last November; a Muslim group claimed responsibility for the slaying. Suleimanov is survived by his wife, Zina, and five children.