MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s FSB internal security service killed two armed men on Wednesday whom it described as Islamist extremists as they tried to cross over a mountainous border from Georgia.
Russia has in the past accused Georgia of not doing enough to prevent Chechen rebels hiding in its mountains, although the Georgian army has since swept through mountain valleys where rebels were believed to be hiding.
The statement comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries after Georgia accused Russia last month of dropping a bomb on its territory, an accusation Moscow has denied.
“When there was an attempt to arrest the men there was fierce resistance and they were destroyed,” the FSB’s press office said.
It said a patrol had been searching the mountainous Karachayevo-Cherkessia region — to the west of Chechnya where Russian soldiers have fought two wars against rebels since 1994 — when it found the two men.
One of the men was known by the Muslim name of Abubakar, the FSB said.
“He was the leader of the religious-extremist association of Karachayevo-Cherkessia and was involved in the organization of terror attacks in the republic,” the FSB said.
Russian authorities have in the past claimed to have killed influential rebel leaders and then repeated the claim about the same rebel on a different, subsequent occasion.