Police detain two suspected militants in southern Russia

Police in Russia's troubled North Caucasus region have detained two men suspected of involvement in a raid on a drug control agency office late last year, officials said Monday.

The two were arrested in Nalchik, the central city of the Kabardino-Balkariya province near Chechnya, said Alexei Polyansky, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry's branch in southern Russia. It was unclear when the two were detained.

Authorities found equipment and manuals for making homemade explosives along with car registration documents and special permits stolen during December's attack on the drug control agency's headquarters in Nalchik, Polyansky said.

During the attack, assailants killed four of the agency's employees, looted its arsenal and set the office ablaze. Officials blamed the attack on Yarmuk, a radical Islamic group affiliated with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.

Kabardino-Balkariya and other regions in southern Russia have been plagued by a spillover of violence from Chechnya, including the September school hostage-taking in Beslan in which some 330 people were killed.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered security forces to deal "more severely" with suspected Islamic militants in the south, and law-enforcement agencies recently have launched a series of sweeps to target suspected extremists outside Chechnya.


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