Number of Chechen rebels stays at 5,000

There are about 5,000 rebels in Chechnya at present, 1,500 of them being irreconcilable, Director of Russia‘s Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev is quoted by Interfax as saying on Thursday. "It is a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, the main task to be fulfilled now is to neutralize the rebels, put an end to operations by the rebel leaders and restore order in the Chechen Republic," Mr. Patrushev asserts. "All the units, including Defence Ministry’s, Interior Ministry’s and Justice Ministry’s, have to work together in a concerted effort. This will make the best results," he said. He admitted that the FSB had available information of the rebel leaders’ whereabouts. "Special operations against the rebel leaders are being planned on the basis of this information, and they will be carried out in the places where they are located," he added.