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Russian interior minister vows clampdown on Dagestan militants

RIA Novosti


MAKHACHKALA, January 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev pledged on Friday that tough action would be taken against militants based in the country's North Caucasus republic of Dagestan.

Nurgaliyev was in Makhachkala, the capital of the volatile republic, to visit the site of a Wednesday's suicide bombing, which took the lives of five police officers.

On Thursday, two militants with suspected links to the attack were killed after being surrounded in a private house in the village of Kormaskala in the republic's Kumtorkalinsky District.

"We will carry out serious retaliatory action, aimed at the elimination of militant activity and militant hideouts," he said.

Nurgaliyev also told local police that they were up against an enemy that "has neither nationality nor a human face," and who "seeks to seed panic and fear."

"I am speaking of terrorists," he added.

He also said that 26 terrorist acts had been prevented in Dagestan in 2009.

The interior minister's comments came after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), earlier on Friday that Russia must maintain its tough line against militants in the North Caucasus.

"As far as these criminals are concerned, our policy remains the same," Medvedev said. "They should simply be eliminated, and this must be done systematically."

Russia's North Caucasus republics, in particular Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya, saw a sharp rise in militant activity in 2009.

Wednesday's attack saw a suicide bomber attempt to drive a car into a traffic police depot. The explosion occurred after the bomber's car was blocked off by a police vehicle. Eighteen police officers and 6 civilians were also wounded in the blast.

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