Sunday, June 29, 2008

Russia: Nine dead, four injured in clashes with Caucasus jihadists

Though not often reported on in the mainstream press, the jihad in and around Chechnya has not gone away. "Nine dead, four injured in North Caucasus clashes," from Deutsche Presse Agentur, June 28: MOSCOW - Nine people have been killed and four injured in several exchanges of gunfire in the disputed Russian North Caucasus region, Interfax news agency and regional authorities said Saturday.

Four police officers and two rebels were killed and four police officers injured in a gun battle near the village of Dargo in the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya, Interfax and the authorities reported.

In mid-June, Islamist rebels shot dead three villagers in Benoy- Vedeno and set several houses alight.

In the semi-autonomous republic of Dagestan, three members of a rebel gang were killed in the capital Makhachkala during a police raid.

The heavily armed members of a terrorist group, which included a woman, had holed up on the fourth [floor] of a high-rise building, a spokesman for the authorities said.

After they refused to respond to requests to give themselves up, a special unit stormed the flat and killed the three of them, the spokesman said.

The four police officers in Chechnya were killed Friday evening during a operation by the security forces, the spokesman added.

Grenade launchers were found with the two rebels who were shot dead during that operation.

The rebels managed to hit an armoured personnel carrier during the clashes.

The troubled North Caucasus region has remained restive even under new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The situation in Chechnya has improved greatly since two wars were fought there in the 1990s, but there are still frequent skirmishes.

Islamist groups in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia also clash frequently with the pro-Russian authorities.

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