The Guardian
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Chechen leader says 7 rebels killed in shootout


Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov on Sunday announced a counterattack against Islamist insurgents in the capital Grozny, claiming seven were killed and four others captured.

“The special operation launched in and around Grozny is now complete. Seven bandits were eliminated and four captured,” Kadyrov said on Twitter, using the term “bandits” frequently employed to describe Islamist rebels.

Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of the Caucasus region, said a “group of armed people” had attacked a police officer late Saturday, then engaged in a shootout after being caught in a security lockdown on the city.

He said three of the detainees were being treated in hospital for bullet wounds, but gave no information on casualties among security forces.

No further details were given on the motives of the alleged attackers.

Russia fought two brutal separatist wars over the past two decades in Chechnya but the region has been largely pacified under Kadyrov’s iron-fisted rule.

A dwindling group of Islamist insurgents are still fighting the authorities in Chechnya and across the volatile North Caucasus, and sporadically launch eye-catching attacks.

Fourteen security officers were killed when armed militants stormed several buildings in Grozny on the day of President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address in December 2014.

Kadyrov is accused by rights activists and the opposition of running Chechnya as his personal fiefdom, with kidnapping and torture widespread and little oversight from Moscow.

The Russian North Caucasus is one of the major sources of foreign jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq.

The FSB security service earlier this month said it had killed a regional “emir” of the Islamic State group in a raid.

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