Russia kills five Islamist militants in Caucasus

Five militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have been killed in Russia’s volatile Northern Caucasus region, the national anti-terrorism committee said Monday. Armed militants were killed in a shootout with Russia’s FSB security service and other law enforcement agencies in the Karachay-Cherkessia region, the committee said in a statement.

Automatic rifles, ammunition and improvised explosive devices were recovered from the scene, authorities said, adding that a senior militant was thought to be among the casualties. “It is known that members of this band have pledged allegiance to the ISIS international terrorist organization and planned to commit terror-related crimes in crowded places,” the committee said. ISIS is another widely used name for IS.

The announcement came after the CIA helped Russia thwart a terror attack on the Kazan Cathedral, one of the most famous landmarks in Saint Petersburg. President Vladimir Putin praised the “exemplary cooperation” between the US and Russian security services and in a phone call Sunday thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump.

The FSB said last week it had arrested seven IS members who had been planning terror attacks in crowded areas of Russia’s former Imperial capital. Russia has suffered several attacks this year, including a bombing on the Saint Petersburg metro in April that left 15 people dead. The threat of attacks has increased since Moscow’s military intervention in Syria in 2015 to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, making Russia a priority IS target.

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