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67 militants killed in N. Caucasus since start 2009 - FSB chief

RIA Novosti

31/03/2009 10:58 MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - At least 67 militants have been killed and 233 detained in special operations in the North Caucasus since the beginning of 2009, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Tuesday.

"At least 67 militants have been eliminated and 233 detained in antiterrorism operations in the North Caucasus in 2009," Alexander Bortnikov said at a meeting of Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

The committee is meeting in Moscow to consider formally ending the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya and begin the withdrawal of around 20,000 Russia's Interior Ministry troops from the North Caucasus republic.

Russia started its antiterrorism campaign in Chechnya in September 1999, deploying special police units, carrying out frequent police sweeps, and increasing security at key facilities.

Although the active phase of the antiterrorism campaign in the North Caucasus officially ended in 2001, periodic bombings and clashes between militants and federal troops still disrupt Chechnya and nearby regions, particularly Daghestan and Ingushetia.

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