Originally published at 04:49.
PYATIGORSK/MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) - Two servicemen were killed and seven others injured in a shootout with suspected militants in Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya, Russia's Investigative Committee said Thursday.
The casualties occurred during a police search operation on Wednesday night in the southeastern region of Vedeno.
Officials are still investigating the incident, but a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti Thursday the armed group included six to eight men.
Investigators have opened a criminal case on charges of illegal possession of weapons and attempts on the life of a police officer, according to a statement from the Investigative Committee. The statement did mention, however, any suspects or arrests.
The news came amid large-scale public celebrations in Chechnya to mark Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. Police sources said no incidents were reported during celebrations in the republic’s capital Grozny.
The volatile, predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region has for years been plagued by a low intensity Islamic insurgency which targets security officials.
Updated with new casualty count and information from Investigative Committee.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.