Russian security forces killed 49 militants in a long-term, sweeping operation across Russia’s volatile north Caucasus. Nine of those killed were considered to be “odious” guerilla commanders in the drive to carve out an Islamist state in the region.
The “large-scale and massive” September-October operation in several republics in the region involved forces from both the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry, Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK) said on Sunday.
“The coordinated action helped terminate the activities of several odious gang leaders, gang members and their associates, substantially damaging the system under which the bandits operate,” Interfax quotes a NAK statement as saying.
Thirty people with alleged connections to the insurgency were also arrested, along with 20 others who gave themselves up to the authorities.
The operation further resulted in the destruction of 90 rebel bases and the seizure of thirty homemade explosive devices, 100 kg of explosives, 109 weapons, 530 mines, shells and grenades and 19 thousand rounds of ammunition.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently stressed the importance anti-terrorist operations in the run-up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 World Cup.
On Tuesday, Putin announced that 313 militants and 43 militant leaders had been killed within the past three months.
The self-proclaimed Caucasus Emirate, headed by Russia’s most-wanted terrorist Doku Umarov, has vowed to stage attacks during the Games.