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12 Feb, 2010 14:12

14 militants killed in counter-terrorist operation in southern Russia

At least fourteen militants were killed by federal law enforcement officers in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia.

Alongside them, four civilians have been killed and two injured. They were collecting wild leeks in the forest when the tragedy occurred, despite about 80 civilians being evacuated from the area.

President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov expressed condolences to the relatives of the dead civilians.

The operation began on Thursday in the Sunzha district, Ingushetia, on the Ingush border with Chechnya. The raid was launched after police and security officers came across a large training base allegedly belonging to the militants. The identities of seven of the dead militants have already been established.

On Friday a group of 20 to 25 militants have been cornered by law enforcement officers.

Before the operation started, the militants were advised to surrender several times, but they answered with gunfire, the Interfax news agency quoted a police source as saying.

Federal forces suffered no casualties.

And though the special operation is over, the situation in the southern Russian republic remains tense.

Ramzan Kadyrov, President of the Chechen republic, recalled that last summer in this area Chechen and Ingush police carried out a series of successful operations, killing tens of militants and their leaders.

“This nest of wasps was stirred last year. Now we need to get rid of it completely,” added Kadyrov.