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Al-Qaida leader killed in Chechnya

GROZNY, Russia, March 18 (UPI) -- Security forces in the Chechen Republic announced Thursday that they killed an Arab man believed to be a warlord for al-Qaida operatives in the region.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said police killed militant leader Abu Haled in a gun battle Wednesday in the restive republic, Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reports.

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"He handled the technical and psychological training of terrorists," he said. Abu Haled was identified by Chechen officials Thursday.

Security forces surrounded about 30 militants Wednesday in the Vedensky district of the Chechen Republic. Three police officers were killed during the raid along with six other suspected militants.

Kadryov said security teams were operating in difficult mountainous terrain, though his forces had taken the appropriate steps to make sure insurgents couldn't escape.

Islamic rebels in the region have fought with pro-Kremlin authorities and Russian security forces for years. Violence in Chechnya is up despite efforts to bring stability to the region following two separatist wars.

Kadyrov added that security forces were on the lookout for two other Arab militants linked to al-Qaida forces.

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