Five soldiers have been killed and six injured in clashes with militants in Russia's troubled southern republic of Chechnya, a police source said on Friday.
The fighting occurred during a special operation in the North Caucasus republic's Urus-Martan district, southwest of the capital Grozny late on Thursday, a police official said.
"A group commander, a squad chief, a section commander and a rifleman were killed in a shootout. A sniper died as militants attempted to break through federal lines during the second clash," the spokesman said.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who led the special operation, announced earlier on Thursday that six militants, including a suspected Arab mercenary, had been killed, and that another 15 fighters remained surrounded.
Kadyrov earlier said the operation, which began on January 19, was primarily aimed at catching notorious warlord Doku Umarov.
Chechnya has seen a dramatic surge in violence recently, undermining efforts to bring life back to normal in the region after two brutal separatist wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In January, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev decided to include Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachai-Circassia into the new North Caucasus Federal District and appointed Krasnoyarsk governor and former business executive Alexander Khloponin as his envoy there in a bid to improve the economic situation in the volatile region.
MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti)