Gun battles kill at least 11 in Russia's Chechnya
At least six insurgents and five Russian troops have been killed in gun battles in Chechnya, authorities in the war-scarred Russian province said.world Updated: Feb 05, 2010 15:28 IST
At least six insurgents and five Russian troops have been killed in gun battles in Chechnya, authorities in the war-scarred Russian province said on Friday.
Five or six federal servicemen were killed in fighting that began on Thursday and persisted on Friday in forested mountains southwest of the capital, Grozny, a law enforcement official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's office said six insurgents were killed on Thursday in separate fighting.
Violence has escalated over the past year in Chechnya, undermining a recovery in the mostly Muslim region following two devastating 1990s wars pitting government forces against separatist rebels.
Kadyrov has expressed confidence that the insurgents will soon be destroyed and has even announced plans to build a ski resort once they are eliminated from strongholds in the southern mountains.
But near-daily attacks in Chechnya and neighbouring provinces in the North Caucasus, mostly targeting law enforcement and government officials, have alarmed the Kremlin.
President Dmitry Medvedev has called violence in the North Caucasus Russia's biggest domestic political problem and has urged authorities to tackle underlying causes such as unemployment and corruption.