Makhachkala, Russia; 15 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The office of the Russian Interior Ministry in the southern republic of Daghestan says a group of armed Chechen separatists appears to have eluded pursuit of military and border-guard units and has taken several hostages. The separatists made an incursion overnight into the Daghestani village of Shauri, killing nine border guards and taking four hostages.
Anzhela Martirosova, a spokeswoman from the ministry, said that Daghestani police tried to pursue the separatists, but lost track of them in rugged terrain.
Martirosova said the Russian military sent combat helicopters to pursue the group, but their operation was hampered by bad weather. She added that the separatists were heading toward the border with Georgia, about 10 kilometers south from Shauri.