Twelve Suspected Rebels Reported Killed In Chechnya
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 29.08.2010 12:25
A dozen suspected militants and two law-enforcement agency employees have been killed in a shoot-out in Chechnya.
The volatile region's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, told reporters that between 20 and 30 suspected militants entered the village of Tsentoroi in the early hours of August 29, setting on fire several private houses. According to Kadyrov -- who said he had personally taken charge of the operation -- security forces opened fire on the assailants.
Tsentoroi is Kadyrov's birthplace.
"We had information [about the imminent attack] and we were waiting near Tsentoroi," Kadyrov told reporters.
"We let them enter the village, so they dispersed. And we even prepared a place, where it was possible to destroy them. And the guys from [the president's] personal security service did a great job."
Two law-enforcement officers were killed and two were hospitalized during the operation, Kadyrov said. Four civilians were also wounded, according to the president.
Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, however, reports that five civilians were killed in the shoot-out, which began at around 0430 local time.
The identity of the suspected militants and their allegiances to insurgent groups remains unclear.
RFE/RL's Caucasus analyst Liz Fuller points out that in recent years Kadyrov has "consistently overestimated the number of fighters killed and underestimated the number of fighters still hiding out in the mountains."
Fuller describes the August 29 attack as the "largest-scale offensive launched by Chechen fighters so far this year," and also the "boldest" as the suspected militants targeted Kadyrov's hometown.
"Most of the attacks that have been reported over the past year have involved only five or 10 fighters," Fuller said.
"The insurgency website kavkaz.center is now saying that this morning's attack was by 60 fighters in three separate groups, under three different commanders. It means it's a bigger attack than we've seen for some time. And of course the choice of the target is extremely significant in that it was a clear attempt to discredit and insult and humiliate Kadyrov himself."
The attack was the latest violence in the volatile North Caucasus, where Islamic militants have long been challenging the region's Moscow-backed government. The insurgents have said their aim is to create a "Caucasus Emirate" in the region.
In a separate incident, authorities say police shot dead four suspected rebels after they opened fire from two cars late on August 28 in the Khasavyurt district of the nearby region of Kabardino-Balkaria.
Earlier on August 28 officials announced that Russian forces had killed 10 suspected militants in operations in Kabardino-Balkaria and the nearby region of Daghestan.
with agency reports
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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