Clashes in Russia's Caucasus kill 10 rebels

Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:22pm EDT
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By Amie Ferris-Rotman

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian security forces killed at least 10 suspected militants on Friday in clashes in the North Caucasus, where the Kremlin is fighting a growing Islamist insurgency, federal authorities said.

Russia's National Anti-terrorist Committee said the dead included insurgent group leaders behind several attacks in the Kabardino-Balkaria province over the past year.

A decade after federal forces drove rebels out of power in Chechnya, the North Caucasus remains plagued by violence. The insurgency is gaining in numbers and spreading in scope.

The latest skirmishes took place in southern Russia along the border between mainly Muslim Kabardino-Balkaria and the predominantly Orthodox Christian Stavropol region, Interfax news agency cited investigators as saying.

It said Russian forces acted in response to insurgents opening fire on their positions.

Violence in Kabardino-Balkaria has increased over the last year, leading analysts to suggest the insurgency is expanding beyond its usual centers such as Dagestan and Chechnya.

Attacks in or near the Stavropol region have also been on the rise but remain relatively rare.

The National Anti-terrorist Committee said senior militants Asker Dzhappuyev, Ratmir Shameyev and Aslanbek Khamurzov, as well as two female rebels, were among the dead, the Interfax reported.   Continued...