ROSTON-ON-DON, Russia (AP) — Russian police say the number of police officers killed in a four-day operation to wipe out several militant bands in the volatile Caucasus republics of Chechnya and Dagestan has increased to 17.
The fighting is some of the bloodiest and most sustained reported in the region in recent months. A police spokesman for the Caucasus region said Saturday that another 24 officers had been wounded.
Police say three rebel bands, totaling 50 to 100 militants, have been blocked by police in the Nozhai-Yurt area of Chechnya and an adjacent part of Dagestan. The police spokesman, who declined to give his name, did not say how many rebels had been killed, but officials said Friday that at least 20 had died.
The Russian Caucasus has been destabilized by an Islamic insurgency that spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.