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Russian forces kill 49 rebels in North Caucus

MOSCOW — Russia’s security services have killed 49 rebels and have captured dozens more in a counterterrorism offensive that officials called a ‘‘considerable’’ blow to the insurgency in the North Caucasus region, the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said Sunday.

President Vladimir Putin had urged the use of more aggressive means to subdue the insurgency in the North Caucasus before the 2014 Winter Olympics in the southern city Sochi, which is on the edge of the turbulent region.

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“It’s a matter of honor for the security services and special forces to do everything for these events to happen in a normal, celebratory atmosphere so that nothing darkens these events,’’ Putin said at a meeting with military advisers and the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service this week.

Putin urged his subordinates to show ‘‘daring’’ to prevent any terrorist attacks, especially during the Sochi Olympics and the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, with matches scheduled in several Russian cities.

A representative for the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in Moscow that the rebels killed were among the most ‘‘odious’’ insurgent leaders in the region, and were responsible for a campaign of terrorism that included bombings, the killings of police officers, and attacks against schools in the Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria republics.

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