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Daghestan Tunnel Reopens After Security Operation

A road tunnel that was closed in September for a security operation targeting suspected militants in Russia's Daghestan region was reopened on September 1.

The 4.3-kilometer Gimry tunnel -- the longest road tunnel in the former Soviet Union -- links isolated mountain districts of central Dagestan with regions closer to the Caspian Sea coast and the provincial capital, Makhachkala.

It was closed in mid-September after the launch of a large-scale "counterterrorist operation" in the Untsukul District.

The district has been the site of freqent raids by government forces seeking to root out an Islamic insurgency that stemmed from post-Soviet separatist wars in Chechnya but spread to Daghestan and other mostly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.

Government critics say heavy-handed tactics by security forces fuel the insurgency.

On November 26, the "counterterrorist operation regime" in the area was lifted and a commission started assessing damage inflicted in Vremenny, a settlement in which many residents were driven from their homes by the operation.

Daghestani officials have said that 14 militants were killed and that two suspected militants and 12 supporters were detained during the operation.

Based on reporting by and Interfax