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Russia: Top Security Ministers Arrive In Dagestan

Makhachkala, 18 August 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's top security ministers arrived in Dagestan today as Russian troops continued their offensive to crush Islamic militants entrenched in the mountains of the southern republic.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo will take part in a meeting of Dagestan's ruling State Council and Security Council.

Russia has now been fighting for 12 days Islamic militants in Dagestan seeking independence for the North Caucasus. Russian officials said Russian warplanes flew 20 sorties against rebel positions over the past 24 hours and Russian troops also successfully prevented an attempt by gunmen to cross from Chechnya into Dagestan to help the rebels.

The fighting in Dagestan is the worst violence in Russia since the end of the 1994-1996 Chechen war of independence. Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday vowed Russia will never give up the North Caucasus.