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17 Feb, 2012 08:22

Police deaths mount in Caucasus as militants pick new ‘amir’

13 policemen have been killed in three days of fierce fighting with militants on the border of the Russian southern republics of Dagestan and Chechnya. This comes as a Turkish terrorist has reportedly become the new head of the Dagestani fighters.

At least five police officers were killed and six others injured in the fighting on the republics’ borders on Thursday, Interfax news agency reports.   The policemen were fighting several militant groups. According to the news agency’s source in the police, the operation is ongoing in complicated conditions, in mountains and forests, covered in deep snow. The militants are offering fierce resistance, the source added, and have reportedly sustained losses.At least 13 policemen have already been killed in the operation in the last three days. 17 more have sustained injuries. Just about 20 kilometres away from the ongoing operation, Dagestani police is using aircraft to battle one more militant group hiding in the forest. Helicopter gunships have strafed the area, the Interfax news agency reports. There is no news on casualties.The Russian Caucasus republics of Dagestan and Chechnya have for years been a center for militant violence and terror attacks targeting police forces and the civilian population. There are also reports that the Dagestani militant underground has a new leader, or amir, the Turkish terrorist sheikh Abdousalam. His predecessor Ibrahimhalil Daudov died in a police anti-terrorism operation. Daudov, along with his 21-year-old son and three other militants, was killed in an operation in the village of Gurbuki.  Injured Ibrahimhalil Daudov managed to escape a house, where the group had taken refuge. His body was later recovered near a local river. Militants reportedly confirmed the death of their leader, who was said to be exceptionally fanatical and cruel. The new head of the Dagestani militants is due to be appointed by Doku Umarov, leader of the so-called Caucasus emirate, comprised of various militant groups. Abdousalam is said to have undergone training in camps of his homeland and reportedly arrived in the Russian Caucasus about five years ago.The Caucasus emirate is a terror organization aimed at fighting Russia’s control of several Caucasus republics, including Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia.