The Moscow Times reports more proof of how very well Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is doing keeping the peace in the Chechnya region. Send our athletes there in 2014 for the Olympics? That would be suicide.
Three days of intense fighting between police and insurgents in a wooded area of Dagestan ended Saturday with five officers and about a dozen militants left dead, officials said. Clashes are frequent in Dagestan, but the fighting in an area near the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan was some of the most intense in recent months. Helicopter gunships fired on the militant positions.
Regional Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said14 insurgents were killed, but Interfax cited the Federal Security Service as saying 12 died. “The group committed several crimes in two regions in Dagestan,” Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgirei Magomedtagirov told reporters. “There are at least three non-Russians with Arab nationality among the dead militants, perhaps even four,” he said.
State-owned Vesti-24 television showed a row of dead rebels lying in the snow with Kalashnikov rifles slung across their limp shoulders. Magomedtagirov said a collection of Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns and a sniper rifle were found where the militants were hiding. Earlier, television showed helicopter gunships firing from the snowy skies at targets in a forest and armored vehicles rolling into the mountainous area. The police action, which began Wednesday, came after officials in the regions complained to regional authorities about the presence of the gunmen.
Underscoring the seriousness of the fighting, state-run television prominently showed a meeting Friday between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Dagestan’s leader, Mukhu Aliyev. In the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, police fatally shot four men Friday who failed to stop their car at a checkpoint and began shooting at officers, city police spokesman Shamil Guseinov said. The bodies of the four were shown on television lying among shattered glass near a battered, white Lada car.
Dagestan’s militants are seen as having been inspired by separatists in neighboring Chechnya.
The fighting is the latest round of violence to plague the North Caucasus, pitting criminal gangs, Islamic militants or feuding clans against one another or against government and police forces. A three-hour shootout Thursday north of the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria left four gunmen killed.