Russian security forces have ended an operation against suspected separatist rebels in the southern region of Dagestan.At least 21 people are said to have died during three days of clashes. At least four militants were killed near Makhachkala in the mainly Muslim region of the North Caucasus which has a tradition of rebellion against Moscow. Five police officers have been killed since the action began and 12 more rebels died near the border with Azerbaijan and Georgia where Interior Ministry troops attacked forest hideouts. A government spokesman claimed there were Arab nationals among the dead. Dagestan’s militants are seen as having been inspired by separatists in neighbouring Chechnya.