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Russian Forces Attack Militants In Stavropol


http://gdb.rferl.org/23C314AE-7E74-499E-9980-C02594A08905_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/23C314AE-7E74-499E-9980-C02594A08905_mw800_mh600.jpg Russian police evacuating local residents in Tukui-Mekhteb (AFP) 10 February 2006 -- Some 300 Russian police and special forces have launched an attack on a building held by gunmen in Stavropol Krai, close to the border with Chechnya.

An Interior Ministry official said three police officers were killed in the operation and two wounded. Another officer is thought to have been taken hostage by the insurgents. The operation was reportedly continuing today.

Russian television showed troops and armored vehicles moving into position in the village of Tukui-Mekteb, where the local police said around five gunmen were surrounded.

Fighting between Islamist militants and Russian forces has often spread beyond Chechnya to other parts of the North Caucasus, but Stavropol Krai has been left mostly untouched.

A Federal Security Service press officer said the gunmen were ethnic Nogais who have been fighting against Russian forces in Chechnya since the late 1990s.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, Reuters, AFP)
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