Four civilians were killed during anti-militant operations in the volatile southern Russian republic of Ingushetia, the republic's president told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said that some 80 civilians had been evacuated from the special operations area before police authorities began an offensive against militants believed to be part of the network controlled by North Caucasus warlord Doku Umarov.
"This is the harvest season for wild garlic in the region and a group of harvesters remained in the area," Yevkurov said, adding: "During the shootout that followed, four civilians were caught in the crossfire."
On Friday, there were reports that between 10 and 17 militants had been killed in the special operation in a forested mountainous area in Ingushetia's Sunzhen region, a province west of Chechnya.
Ingushetia and the neighboring North Caucasus regions of Chechnya and Dagestan have been plagued by violence linked to separatist militants and criminal groups.
MAGAS, February 13 (RIA Novosti)