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© RIA Novosti. Anton Denisov

Elbrus counter-terrorist ops scrapped

by Nathan Toohey at 07/11/2011 17:51

The recent bombs and shoot-outs are over and counter-insurgency operations have been cancelled to convince tourists that the new Mount Elbrus ski resort in the Caucasus is safe for business.

 

In an optimistic signal to would be pleasure seekers at the abandoned ski resort, the counter terrorist heavies have put their safety catches on and this makes the place ready for skiing, the authorities insist.

 

The local economy crumbled after tourists from Moscow were shot on their way there last April. The troops moved in and so began an eight month clamp down campaign in the Elbrus and Baksan districts of Kabardino-Balkaria.

 

The state of play

 

Tourists have not been allowed to the region and local authorities were not able to subsidize the bereft tourist industry and its dependants.

 

The local Interior Ministry reports that about a dozen insurgents’ bases and 30 hideouts with weapons have been discovered, along with three mini laboratories for making explosives. Meanwhile almost 120 weapons, 7,500 rounds of ammunition, 33 homemade bombs and 27 kilograms of explosives have been seized in illegal trafficking clamp-downs, Kommersant reported.

 

Sixty-nine members of local terrorist groups have been killed and nearly 100 detained, including leaders and practically all armed Wahhabi units who participated in the murder of the Moscow tourists, blowing up a cable car, the attack on the Baksan hydroelectric power station, and the murders of both civilians and law enforcement officers.

 

Cause for hope?

 

The security forces’ raids seem to have been effective and have been brought to an end “because of the crime situation stabilizing in the Elbrus and Baksan districts,” Sergei Kamenny, head of operations for the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic FSB, said in an official statement Saturday, as reported by Kommersant.

 

The paper reported that local authorities hope cancelling the action stations regime in time for the November start of the skiing season will attract tourists to Elbrus, along with new investors, so creating a world class resort.

 

But the recent violent clamp downs have been part of the problem, Caucasus expert Dr Stefan Meister of the German Council on Foreign Relations told The Moscow News after a bomb attack last year. Violence breeds violence, he said, and a less militarized approach is what is needed.

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