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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

12 Rebels Killed in Dagestan Airstrikes

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan -- Aided by helicopters, hunters and local volunteers, soldiers and police searched the remote mountains of western Dagestan a third day Wednesday for rebels who killed nine border guards.

A total of 12 rebels have been killed during the search operation -- eight in one helicopter strike Tuesday and four more in a separate airstrike Tuesday night, said Alexei Maslov, the chief of staff of the federal military district that includes Dagestan and Chechnya.

On Wednesday, about 100 local volunteers aided a total of about 2,000 Dagestani police and federal military forces trying to track down the remaining rebels, helping them find mountain paths and potential hiding places.

President Vladimir Putin's representative in southern Russia, Viktor Kazantsev, placed blame on the military for the incursion and "all this chasing of rebels in the mountains," saying officers "knew about the paths they can use and failed to take advantage of their experience" with gunmen in the region.