Russian police and interior troops have killed more than 300 militants, including 43 warlords, in North Caucasus in the past few months, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
“In the past several months, 479 militants were detained, and 313 terrorists, who refused to surrender, were killed, including 43 leaders,” Putin told a meeting on ways to fight terrorism in Russia.
“Our security agencies have started to work more effectively,” Putin said. “At the same time we pay a high price for every mistake, therefore we must work relentlessly and decisively, a step ahead [of terrorists], and, when necessary, even boldly.”
The Russian president pointed out the crucial importance of avoiding collateral damage and preventing civilian casualties.
“That is why all counter-terrorism operations must be planned scrupulously, and the actions of forces deployed by the various ministries and agencies must be well-coordinated,” Putin said.
He also stressed the need to continue to hold regular anti-terrorism drills, like the recent Caucasus-2012, to make sure that security forces from the different ministries and agencies involved in the fight against terror work together smoothly.
Over a decade after the end of a war against Islamist separatists in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, Russian security forces continue to fight militants across the volatile region.
The Islamist insurgency, once confined largely to Chechnya, has spread in recent years across the North Caucasus. Attacks on security forces, police and civilians are reported regularly in the neighboring republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria.