|And it becomes even harder to think positively about Chechen "freedom fighters".
12 militants dead in southern Russia amid Beslan repeat fears
16:34 | 10/ 02/ 2006
MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Twelve militants thought to have been plotting a terrorist atrocity similar to the 2004 Belsan school massacre have been killed in southern Russia after troops and police stormed a building where they been holed up since Thursday night, the Interior Ministry said Friday.
A local police chief said law enforcers had opted for action in the Stavropol Territory village of Tukui Mekteb due to fears that the militants were planning a repetition of the bloody attack on a school in the North Caucasus town of Beslan in September 2004, which claimed the lives of 331 people, including 186 children.
"The decision to eliminate terrorists was taken after the police received information about a planned terrorist attack involving a hostage-taking in a school in the Stavropol Territory," Viktor Barnash said.
The region, like North Ossetia, where Beslan is located, borders on the troubled republic of Chechnya.
Barnash said five police officers were now reported to have been killed in the operation, up from four, but no civilians had been injured.
The initial shootout began on Thursday night when law enforcement and security officers surrounded a militant group at two addresses. They came under fire when they approached a building where the militants had been hiding before all the militants made it into a different house, the official said.
About 300 troops and several armored vehicles were called to the scene to conduct the operation, which was successfully concluded on Friday afternoon.
A team of investigators and explosive experts are still working at the scene of the incident.