Police forces have killed a notorious militant leader in an ongoing operation in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said on Thursday.
"It has just come to my knowledge that one of the militants killed [in the operation] has been identified," Kadyrov said after he arrived at the site in the Vedeno district, where a group of about 20 gunmen was surrounded by police on Wednesday.
"It is a citizen of one of the Middle Eastern countries, Abu Haled of Arab nationality."
"Abu Haled, according to operational data, came to Chechnya 13 years ago. He handled the technical and psychological training of terrorists. Possessing special training, Abu Haled had for many years succeeded in hiding out in the mountains," Kadyrov added.
He noted that Abu Haled, alongside with the group's Arab leaders, Mukhanad and Yasir, had been responsible for major terrorist attacks across southern Russia in recent years.
"Steps are now being taken to eradicate those two," Kadyrov added.
A regional law enforcement source told RIA Novosti that Abu Haled was North Caucasus warlord Doku Umarov's security chief, and was also in charge of what he described as the terrorists' "counter-intelligence service."
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.
Kadyrov earlier dismissed the existence of separatist moods in the North Caucasus, but said that small groups of militants are still active in the volatile region.
GROZNY, March 18 (RIA Novosti)