Dozens of militants have reportedly been killed by Russian security forces during an operation in the North Caucasus region, where rebels are fighting to carve out an Islamic state.
It was launched days after President Vladimir Putin led a meeting of the country’s Security Council. He has pushed the North Caucasus insurgency – rooted in two separatist wars in Chechyna – back to the forefront of national politics.
Putin has tolld security forces to ensure that militants do not launch attacks at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and at other high profile events.
Nine local leaders are said to be among 49 people killed during the security operation. It is also claimed that 30 militants were detained and 90 bases destroyed.