Russian forces kill 49 Islamist militants in crackdown
Russian security forces have killed 49 Islamist militants and captured 30 others in a series of co-ordinated raids in the North Caucasus region, the country's top anti-terrorism agency has claimed.
At least nine leaders of the insurgency -- which is being waged across the region in an attempt to set up an Islamic caliphate -- were said to have been killed and a bomb-making factory was discovered.
The National Anti-terrorism Committee (NAK) did not say over what period the raids were carried out.
"A series of co-ordinated measures allowed for the suppression of the activity of a number of odious leaders, members of bandit groups and accomplices and allowed for a significant disruption of the bandits' supply system," the statement released to Russian news agencies said.
If the figures are true, they are a reminder of the ongoing vitality of the insurgency on Russia's southern perimeter, which grew out of separatists' battles for Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.
NAK said that among other strikes it had "neutralised" four leaders of the insurgency in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkariya who were allegedly responsible for killing a judge, two Federal Security Service operatives and numerous policemen.
More than 90 insurgent camps or bases were destroyed and 26 arms caches were discovered across the North Caucasus, the agency claimed.
Russian security forces have been fighting Muslim gunmen in the region since full-scale battles between the army and separatists ceased more than a decade ago. The insurgents are thought to number less than a 1,000 men but have launched devastating terrorist attacks on the Russian heartland. (© Daily Telegraph, London)