MOSCOW Two of the most wanted Islamist rebels in Chechnya were among 13 killed in a shootout between Russian law enforcement officers and rebels in the volatile mountain province, Interfax news agency said on Thursday.
Brothers Khuseyn and Muslim Gakayev have been accused of organizing several high-profile attacks, most recently a suicide bomb attack on an interior ministry vehicle that killed four last August.
They were also blamed for an attack on the Chechen parliament in 2010 that killed at least six people, and an assassination attempt at the residence of Moscow-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
"During a special operation in the mountains of Chechnya, twelve militants were killed," Interfax quoted an unnamed Interior Ministry spokesman as saying. One law enforcement official was also killed, Interfax said.
The operation started on Wednesday and was still going on, Kadyrov was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Insurgents seeking a separate Islamist state still stage daily attacks across the broader North Caucasus Mountain region more than a decade after Russia reestablished federal control over the province following two separatist wars.
The special operation was going on in the Vedeno district, one of the regions hardest hit by the wars that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.