74 Russian police, soldiers killed in Caucasus this year
Seventy-four policemen and soldiers have been killed in Russia's volatile Caucasus region since the beginning of the year while battling insurgents, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev said Saturday.
His comments came as police also announced having killed three men in the Caspian region of Dagestan including an organiser of failed New Year's terror attacks in Moscow.
A total of 253 forces were killed or injured in the breakaway region as a result of an increased number of military campaigns, Nurgaliev said during a security meeting in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria in the Caucasus.
Since the beginning of the year 158 attacks were committed in the region including 98 attacks by rebels using firearms and 60 explosions, said Nurgaliev.
Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, where it fought two wars with Chechen separatists in the 1990s, and Dagestan has experienced some of the deadliest violence.
Islamic militants are seeking to establish an independent state across the North Caucasus and vowed to make 2011 a year of "blood and tears" for Russia.
In January, a suicide bomber from the Caucasus blew himself up at Russia's biggest Domodedovo airport, killing 36 people and injuring more than 100.
© 2011 AFP