TITLE=RUSSIA / DAGESTAN / S-L
Re-issuing with correct number
INTRO: Russia's Defense Ministry has assumed full
control from the Interior Ministry over military
operations against Islamic militants in Dagestan (in
Russia's southern Caucasus region). Moscow
correspondent Eve Conant reports military activity has
been stepped up as federal forces try to rout the
militants from the mountainous area called Karamakhi.
TEXT: Although there's been a change of command,
Russian helicopter gunships and artillery continue to
pound several villages in central Dagestan.
On Saturday Russia's Defense Ministry was granted full
control over the conflict, taking over from Interior
Ministry troops who fought the militants in other
parts of Dagestan last month. Russian news agencies
report Lieutenant-General Gennady Troshev has been
appointed as commander of the unified forces.
The Defense Ministry says it is taking over the
Interior Ministry in order to "increase the
effectiveness" of the campaign against the militants,
who are well armed and entrenched in strong
Previous Russian forces included army ground troops,
local police forces, Interior Ministry troops and
volunteers with little or no training.
//REST OPT FOR LONG//
Dagestani journalist Nabi Abdulayev, who spoke to V-O-
A by telephone, says Dagestan's government is also
planning to evacuate all women and children from the
Karamakhi area where the fighting is taking place.
The militants are said to be members of the
fundamentalist Wahhabi sect who took control of the
villages a year ago and introduced strict Islamic law
to the area.
In a related incident, an extremist leader known as
Commander Khattab has warned that his Islamic
extremists will carry out reprisals on Russian
territory in response to the offensive against the
militants in Dagestan.(Signed)
04-Sep-1999 08:29 AM EDT (04-Sep-1999 1229 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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