Makhachkala, 30 August 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian helicopters and artillery today continued shelling parts of the southern region of Dagestan after having moved in and taken four largely deserted villages. The shelling concentrated on the Karamakhi region, considered the heart of Islamic fundamentalism in the region. The villages in the area had a total population of about 10,000, but many residents had fled on Saturday, before the fighting between the Russian troops and Islamic rebels began. According to the Russian Interior Ministry, four Russian soldiers have been killed and 15 wounded since the most recent round of fighting started. The rebels also were said to have suffered casualties, but no figures are available.