Three militants killed in central Russia: report

26th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of Russian security personnel hunted down and killed three Islamic militants in the semi-autonomous central republic of Tatarstan, Kommersant reported on Friday.

The massive operation in the usually peaceful region involved 500 servicemen and included support from armoured vehicles and helicopters, the report said.

Tatarstan has a strong Muslim population and has been fighting the emergence of extremism for several years.

However compared to the restive Northern Caucasus which is beset by Islamic militancy, such operations in the Muslim regions of central Russia around the Volga are extremely rare.

The alleged militants belonged to the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation, which is legal in countries such as Britain but is suspected of being involved in militant activities by the Russian state.

The group calls on Muslim countries to unite in a single state, or caliphate, and for the establishment of sharia law.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has a presence in Central Asia and the Russian authorities, particularly those in Tatarstan, have been stepping up their fight against its spread north.

Russia's Memorial human rights organisation has identified several cases of what it identifies as prosecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir members in Tatarstan.

© 2010 AFP

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