Russia begins North Caucasus exercises

July 5, 2008 at 1:49 PM

MOSCOW, July 5 (UPI) -- Russian military officials said Saturday they've begun large-scale military exercises in the country's troubled North Caucasus region.

The training is meant to improve cooperation between federal army troops, Interior Ministry soldiers, border guards and the Russian air force in a region that continues to experience frequent attacks from militant separatists, RIA Novosti reported.

The exercises, called Caucasus Frontier 2008, will be played out mainly in Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Circassia.

"The active phase of the multi-stage exercise will be held through the second week of July," Maj. Gen. Vladimir Maystrenko, deputy chief of staff of the North Caucasus Military District, told the Russian news agency.

During the first five months of 2008, Ingushetia alone was the target of 53 attacks in which 12 police officers and four servicemen were killed and 57 others were injured.

Local police said at least one Russian serviceman was killed and several others wounded Saturday in Ingushetia when a truck convoy with federal troops came under gunfire from militants.

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