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17 May, 2009 11:17

Flirting with militants no more – Chechen president

More than 20 suspected militants have been hemmed on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia after special forces of the two Russian republics launched a joint operation.

It’s reported that three terror suspects have already been killed in the operation, including a citizen from Azerbaijan. Police say all three belonged to an armed group headed by top Chechen terrorist, Doku Umarov, who's wanted in Russia over alleged murders and terror attacks.

Meanwhile, a parallel offensive continues in the mountainous area of Chechnya, where up to 70 militants are thought to be hiding. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has ordered the elimination of the militants by any means.

“The mountainous territory of the republic has been divided into zones. Certain people are responsible for each zone and have a task to neutralize militants if found. And if they put up resistance – to destroy them without trying to take them alive, and not to put lives of military and police officers at risk,” the President said.

Starting from today, Kadyrov said, the amnesty for militants who turn themselves in has been canceled and there will be “no more flirting” with those still hiding.

“They have been given numerous chances to return to peaceful life. Those who wanted to, have already done this. And if the remaining criminals want to kill somebody, we will help them to die as well,” Kadyrov said. “A person whose aim is to kill innocent people must be destroyed,” he added.

The operation in Chechnya began two days after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance to the Chechen Interior Ministry in the capital Grozny, killing two policemen and one civilian.

Simultaneously, in neighboring Dagestan, the Federal Security Service has announced a new counter-terrorism initiative, which is after local police became involved in an operation against a gang of militants that resulted in the death of four suspects.

The battle, which took place in a forest close to the republic's capital, began on Wednesday. Officials say the targeted gang was planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the region. One security officer was killed during the operation.

The surge in violence has shaken region one month after a federal counter-terrorism operation was concluded in Checnhya.