Dagestan may use locals to fight militants

Aug. 13, 2010 at 9:48 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Officials in the Russian republic of Dagestan said they plan to form military units of local residents to fight militants in mountainous areas of the region.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev approved forming a "special unit" of at least 800 people to conduct military operations in the North Caucasus republic, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

The republic's first deputy prime minister, Rizvan Kurbanov, said in an interview with Kommersant at least two "ethnic" battalions would be sent to the mountains "to maintain order in the areas where the militants were highly active."

"We expect the local personnel to be more effective because, unlike the federal troops, they know all the roads in the mountains and can tell the difference between traditional Islam believers and the extremists even by their appearance," Kurbanov said in the interview.

Russia previously formed "ethnic" units Chechnya, another North Caucasus republic, RIA Novosti said.

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