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Russia: Federal Troops Find No Guerrillas In Dagestani Villages

Makhachkala, Russia, 30 August 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The ITAR-TASS news agency says Russian Interior Ministry troops and police have failed to find Islamic militants in two Dagestani villages that were attacked by Russian forces yesterday. An Interior troops spokesman said a search of the villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmaklhi late yesterday did not reveal any armed groups. He said an estimated 500 guerrillas are thought to have moved to positions in the mountains. The spokesman said operations had been hindered by a lack of communication between Russian forces and the villages. Russian troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked the villages yesterday in what was described as an operation to disarm suspected Islamic extremists. The villages are considered centers of the Islamic fundamentalist Wahhabi sect.