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Putin Orders Expansion Of Fight In North Caucasus --> 21 February 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today ordered Interior Ministry forces to intensify the battle against militants in the North Caucasus

Putin's call came after a weekend siege in the town of Nalchik, capital of Russia's republic of Kabardino-Balkaria that borders Chechnya. Three alleged militants were killed there and five detained after a standoff with Russian forces.

Putin told Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev he approved of the action, and said ministry forces should treat militants "more severely."

Meanwhile, Russian security forces say a suspected militant was killed today during a security raid in the Northern Caucasus republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia.

Also today, Russian military officials said two militants were killed in Chechnya.

The latest violence follows a car bombing in Daghestan last week that killed three people. A siege in Nalchik last month ended when security forces killed militants trapped in a residential district.