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RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - A set of special arrangements by Russian secret services in the North Caucasus preceded the elimination of Chechen terrorist leader Aslan Maskhadov, a source in Russian secret anti-terrorist structures informed RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

"During the past few weeks a set of special operations was conducted in Chechnya and a number of constituent members of the Russian Federation to locate Chechen terrorist leaders and emissaries of the Al Qaeda international terrorist organization," the interlocutor said on condition of anonymity.

According to the source, the final stage of the operations involved considerable special task forces of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior in some regions of Chechnya. Active covert intelligence work was carried out in the environment of Maskhadov, Shamil Basayev and Doku Umarov, the source was quoted as saying.

"By the spring of 2005 Russia's secret agencies had already obtained enough valuable information on the terrorists' movement, their possible location and methods to provide the leaders' security," the source added.

The arrangement began to yield first evident results by March 6. The analysis of information obtained from certain sources allowed figuring out Maskhadov's location.

"The officers came to be sure that this time it will be possible to arrest or kill Maskhadov," the interlocutor pointed out.

The trap was sprung in the Grozny region's Tolstoi-Yurt region on March 8, when task force officers of the FSB and the Ministry of Defense blocked the village at 8 o'clock, Moscow time.

"What they had to do is find the shelter housing Maskhadov and his accomplices before dark. It took them a few hours to find it. The rest was a matter of routine," the interlocutor aggregated.

The particulars of this unique operation, which involved dozens of people, will not be specified for some time.

"Basayev, Umarov, Avdorkhanov (in charge of Maskhadov's security) and some leaders of Al Qaeda, currently in the North Caucasus, are still at large," the source was cited as saying.

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