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Russia Conducts Large Security Operation In North Caucasus

Russia's National Counterterrorism Committee (NAK) says that a large operation in the North Caucasus involving forces from the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry has resulted in 49 militants and bandits being killed, including nine whom the committee called "odious" leaders of militant and outlaw groups.

The NAK reported on October 21 that the operations were carried out in Kabardino-Balkaria and Daghestan.

According to the NAK, four militant leaders were among those killed in Kabardino-Balkaria. It identified them by the names Batyrbekov, Ulbashev, Karkayev, and Tutov.

At least two separate operations were conducted in Daghestan, also leading to the deaths of several men who have been described as militant commanders.

The NAK said that 30 people were arrested and 20 voluntarily surrendered to authorities in Daghestan. It added that 219 "wanted" people had been taken into custody.

The security operation has already resulted in the seizure of some 30 improvised explosive devices, more than 100 kilograms of material used for making explosives, more than 100 weapons, and some 530 mines, rockets, and grenades as well as a large amount of ammunition.

The NAK did not provide any time frame for the security operation.

News of the security sweep comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin applauded security and law enforcement agencies for reportedly eliminating more than 300 militants in recent months but also called on those agencies to increase their efforts to wipe out remaining groups of militants and outlaws in the North Caucasus.

Putin referred to several international events scheduled to be held in Russia, such as the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 and the soccer World Cup in 2018, and said, "It is a matter of honor for all law enforcement officials to ensure that these events are staged in a normal, business-like, and festive manner, so that nothing can cast a pall over them."

Violence has been increasing in Russia's North Caucasus in recent years.

While Chechnya, long associated with Islamic militants, has seen a drop in incidents under Kremlin-picked strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, neighboring republics such as Kabardino-Balkaria, Daghestan, and Ingushetia have experienced an increase in violence, which has included assassinations of officials and attacks on military convoys.

With reporting by Interfax and AFP
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