Russia launches counter-terrorist operation in Ingushetia:FSB

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Moscow, Jan 25 (UNI) Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) today said a counter-terrorist operation had been launched in Ingushetia republic, near the troubled Chechnya in North Caucasus to ward off the threat from an imminent large-scale terrorist attack.

The FSB (former KGB) said it had received information indicating that ''terrorists had been preparing a series of attacks on administrative buildings, police and citizens in public places on the territory of Ingushetia.'' While Chechnya and Ingushetia republics have been plagued by attacks on police and authorities, as well as militant raids, violence has steadily escalated in recent months in Ingushetia.

''Recent attacks on power lines and communications facilities point to the possibility of a large-scale terrorist act in Ingushetia,'' RIA Novosti quoted an FSB official as saying.

The main districts in the ''counter-terrorist operation zone'' in Ingushetia, included republic's largest city Nazran and the capital Magas.

In line with the law on counter-terrorist operations, a number of heightened security measures, including ID checks and restricted public and transport movement, have been introduced in the zone.

There has been a spurt in terrorist attacks in Ingushetia recently. On January 9, gunmen opened automatic gunfire and launched grenades at two cars carrying six police officers, killing one senior officer and wounding another.

A police officer was later killed by unknown gunmen in the republic on January 16.

A gun and grenade attack in Nazran reportedly targeted the residence of Ingushetian Prime Minister on January 17.

FSB's Director Nikolai Patrushev was attending a meeting of the National Anti-terrorism Committee in Magas at the time of the attack.

Ingushetian government has repeatedly said the attacks were linked to a crackdown on criminal groups and were an attempt to destabilise the region in the run-up to the March 2 Russian presidential election.

UNI XC ARB ND1906

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