Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

More Troops Headed To Caucasus Frontier




Russia will send additional troops and equipment to the volatile North Caucasus region in southern Russia to guard against militants based in breakaway Chechnya, military officials said Wednesday.


The troops will occupy territory near the border with Chechnya where major gunbattles took place Monday and Tuesday. Four Russian security officers and 10 attackers were killed.


In another attack Wednesday, five gunmen opened fire on a police patrol near the Chechen border of the Russian republic of Dagestan, Itar-Tass reported. Two gunmen were reported killed in the ensuing shootout.


The additional Russian forces being sent to the region will protect it from as many as 150 fighters who have occupied a village in Dagestan, which borders Chechnya to the east, Itar-Tass reported.


Also, as many as 500 militants have assembled in Chechnya and may attack at any time, the news agency said.


A combined force of Interior Ministry troops and army soldiers from the North Caucasus military district will be sent to the region, a Russian army press official said. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree forming the joint force after the recent attacks, the official said.


There was no immediate word on how many additional troops would be sent to the region.


Meanwhile, Chechen officials said Wednesday that two Russian fighter jets dropped bombs and fired missiles on the mountain village of Kenkhi in Chechnya, Interfax reported.


A Defense Ministry spokesman, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, denied the report.


"Our airplanes did not bomb anything," the spokesman said. He said Russian jets may have been flying over Chechnya at the time of the attack, but were on a training mission.


Kenkhi residents said warplanes struck Tuesday and bombs injured some villagers and destroyed houses, Interfax said. They could not say whether anybody died. The report could not be independently confirmed.


Violence erupts with regularity in and around Chechnya, a province that has run its own affairs since a 1994-96 war with Russia. Russian police, militants and civilians on both sides have died in border clashes.


Some 40 militants were reported to have launched the attack Monday. After a three-hour shootout and another firefight Tuesday, they retreated through a forest to fortified positions in the mountain village, Itar-Tass reported.


In addition to the 14 known killed, at least three security force members were wounded and three policemen were still missing Wednesday. It was believed they were taken hostage.


The attackers were said to be fundamentalist Wahhabi Moslems fighting to wrest territory from Russia in a bid to create an independent Islamic republic made up of Chechnya and Dagestan.


Dagestani officials requested the army troops Tuesday from Russian General Anatoly Kvashnin, head of the army's general staff. The officials also proposed arming the local population in self-defense units.


Chechen officials have denied involvement in the attacks.


Also Wednesday, police freed a 2-year-old boy from a band of kidnappers in Chechnya, Interfax reported.


The band snatched Adam Zakayev about a week ago and was demanding a ransom from his parents, the report said.


Zakayev was the youngest victim yet in a plague of hostage taking and kidnapping in the region, officials of the rebel government in Chechnya said. The report did not say whether he had been returned to his parents.


It also didn't mention how much money the kidnappers demanded, or if any was paid, for the boy's freedom.


The Chechen State Security Ministry anti-kidnapping squad claimed credit for the rescue. Authorities know who kidnapped Zakayev and plan to make arrests, the ministry's press service said.


Until Zakayev's week-long ordeal, the youngest victim was three-year old Lena Meshcheryakova. She was freed and returned to her mother this summer.


According to Russia's Interior Ministry, 1,094 people have been abducted in and around Chechnya since Jan. 1, 1997.