Five rebels, policeman killed in Russia clash: report

15th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

At least five militants and one policeman were killed Tuesday during a raid on a suspected rebel hideout on the fringes of Russia's conflict-torn Northern Caucasus, news reports said.

The shootout occurred near the Stavropol region's border with Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, a Muslim region that rests in the foothills of the North Caucasus mountains.

The region has in the past largely avoided the violence that has wrecked other parts of southern Russia, and there were few immediate details of Tuesday's clash.

An interior ministry official said the "special operation" began Tuesday morning and raged for about five hours in the heavily forested region.

The rebels returned fire after being detected by the Russian tropps, killing one policeman in injuring three others, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the official as saying.

The battle broke out amid reports that Russian forces were organising a concerted hunt for the feared Islamist Doku Umarov, who has claimed a suicide strike that killed 36 people at a Moscow airport last month.

Umarov and his small band of well-armed guerrillas have avoided Russian troops in the North Caucasus mountains for much of the past decade.

© 2011 AFP

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