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Fighting Continues For A Second Day In Daghestan

(RFE/RL) 4 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Reports from Russia's southern republic of Daghestan say security forces today continued battling armed militants in the mountainous Untsukul district.

The fighting is taking place near the village of Gimry, some 25 kilometers southwest of Buynaksk.

The clashes erupted early yesterday but were suspended at nightfall. They resumed early this morning.

A Gimry resident told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service the security operation involved many attack helicopters: "Many helicopters flew in this morning. Military helicopters. [The security forces] are firing hails of bullets. Who was killed, where these [militants] come from -- so far it's impossible to say. One thing is clear, those helicopters are bombing the place. No one in the village knows anything about those who were killed. The only thing we know is that eight people have been killed so far."

Unconfirmed Russian news reports say up to five militants have been killed. Daghestan's Interior Ministry says one soldier was killed and several policemen wounded.

The pro-independence Kavkaz-Center Chechen information website says the death toll among federal forces is much higher.

Estimates put the number of militants at between eight and 30. Russian media say the group entered Daghestan from neighboring Chechnya.

(With local agencies)

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