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30 Jan, 2007 05:40

Gunfight in Chechnya claims four lives

Gunfight in Chechnya claims four lives

Four Russian servicemen have been killed during a shoot-out in Chechnya. The unit had been searching for militants in the East of the republic when they came under fire. Earlier, a gunman had been killed in the police operation in Dagestan. 

According to some reports, a notorious militant was also killed in the operation in Chechnya.

At the moment, police are searching the area for more gunmen.

Moreover, in a separate incident a gunman was killed during an operation aimed at combating militants in the neighbouring republic of Dagestan. The incident happened in the village of Kosyakino, in the Northern part of the republic.

Gunmen reportedly opened fire when ordered to surrender by Russian forces.

Authorities said the men might have entered the region from neighbouring Chechnya. A search of the house where the militants were staying, has uncovered components for bomb making.

“The special operation started at 6.30 am local time when the task forces surrounded the house and the village in Dagestan, where according to our source a group of militants was hiding out,” said Dagestan Interior Ministry's spokesperson, Angela Martirosova.

“The house was heavily damaged by the fire, but none of the police were wounded. The bodies of the militants, if any, have not been found so far, so I cannot say for sure whether the militants were killed or fled. I cannot confirm reports that Arslan Martsayev, the militant leader, was killed, either. The police have also detained several suspects, and they are checking on their possible involvement,” added Ms Martirosova.

Meanwhile, analysing the situation, some experts said that the high level of corruption accompanied by the high level of poverty, is among the main reasons of such incidents' continuing in the region.

Mikhail Chernov, a political analyst, sharing with Russia Today his opinion on the possible causes of the present unrest in the North Caucasus, said the pivotal problem in Dagestan is corruption. Most militants in the Republic act against the republic’s police. To bolster the republic’s infrastructure, “we must fight corruption and unemployment, we must work with those people to improve their living conditions,” summed up the expert.

Furthermore, the chief editor of the Regnum news agency, Konstantin Kazenin, gave Russia Today his view on why such incidents are continue to happen in the North Caucasus region.

“I think there are two reasons – the first is that social accommodation of those participants of military groups, who would like to give up these activities and become ordinary citizens, is very problematic. This is due to a special situation in the North Caucasus, where corruption and bribery are very developed even in comparison with the neighbouring parts of Russia. The second reason is that the situation in Islam in the North Caucasus is also rather complicated, because in the early 90s there were lots and lots of different trends within the local Islam. Earlier, they were underground, and then they all appeared on the surface so that there was a huge diversity within the local Islam. However, now we see some Islamic trends and some particular Islamic leaders become loyal to the local authorities and get unlimited support from them, whereas all the other Islamic trends are bound to become outsiders,” claimed Mr Kazenin.

“All over the world Islam is on the rise; if you want to deal with them, you must work with them, you must provide them with literature and help them get a proper Islamic education,” also underscored Russia Today’s guest Mikhail Chernov.

So, it does not matter much where the military group comes from, the analyst believes, “they live in the republic itself, or they could have come from Chechnya, from anywhere else.” He adds: “more important is that the Russian government should work with them and should improve the social situation in the Caucasus.”