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Russian forces kill 17 rebels in North Caucasus

Russian forces claim to have killed 17 rebels and captured two people involved in last January’s metro attack’s in Moscow.

An undated photo of a man identified as Chechen separatist leader Doku Umarov
An undated photo of a man identified as Chechen separatist leader Doku Umarov
Image: /Press Association Images

SEVENTEEN REBELS HAVE been killed by Russian forces which attacked and destroyed a militant base in the troubled North Caucasus.

Three Russian police also died in the attack.

Police arrested two suspects whom they believe were involved in January’s suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in the raid.

Russia’s top investigative agency says it has charged Chechen rebel warlord Doku Umarov and another militant with organising the 24 January bombing of the airport that killed 37 and injured more than 180.

Russian media reports, meanwhile, said Tuesday that Umarov may be among 17 militants killed in a raid in Ingushetia late Monday.

Umarov claimed responsibility for the attack in a video posted last month and warned many more such incidents will follow if Russia does not allow the Caucasus to become an independent Islamic state governed by Sharia law.

Markin also said authorities detained two brothers in Monday’s security raid in the province of Ingushetia west of Chechnya on charges of helping stage the bombing. He said the two brothers drove alleged suicide bomber, 20-year old Magomed Yevloyev of Ingushetia, to the airport.

Umarov has claimed responsibility for an array of terrorist attacks, including double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway system a year ago that killed 40 people. He is seen more as an ideological than a military figure, as many militant cells operate autonomously and shun centralized command.

Russian reports said Tuesday Umarov may have been killed in a raid that involved an air strike on a militant camp in the region’s forested mountains. Three security officers were also died the raid.

Ingushetia’s leader, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said Tuesday that some militant leaders were among those killed, but added it was too early to name any names pending investigation. Russian officials have repeatedly claimed in the past that Umarov was killed, but he has survived numerous security sweeps.

Chechen rebels have fought two separatist wars against Russian forces since 1994. Major battles in the second war died down about a decade ago, but the Islamic insurgency has spread across neighboring North Caucasus provinces, stoked by poverty, corruption and abuses against civilians by security forces. Attacks on police and other authorities have become a near daily occurrence.

Additional reporting by AP

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