Russia said on Sunday it had killed 10 fighters linked to the extremist Islamic State group in a special operation in its volatile North Caucasus region.
“According to preliminary information, 10 bandits have been neutralised,” Russia’s national anti-terrorism committee said in a statement quoted by TASS news agency. “All of them were participants in an armed gang whose members swore loyalty to IS.”
The fighters opened fire on law enforcement officers and threw grenades after they were cornered in a wooded area outside the city of Nalchik in the Kabardino-Balkaria region, the anti-terrorism committee said. The security operation was still ongoing, the Russian authorities said.
Militants in the North Caucasus have previously been united under a local Caucasus Emirate organisation, but are now increasingly flocking to Islamic State, which in June declared it had established a franchise there.
Moscow is conducting intensive air strikes targeting infrastructure of IS in Syria and has been pushing for the creation of a broad coalition against the extremist group, which would include Russia, the West and some Middle Eastern states.
President Vladimir Putin has estimated that there are between 5,000 and 7,000 people from former Soviet countries fighting with IS.