MOSCOW - Russian security forces have killed 49 militants in an operation across the North Caucasus region, where rebels are fighting to carve out an Islamic state, Russia's top anti-terrorism body said on Sunday.

The agency, which serves as a mouthpiece for law enforcement agencies operating in the region, gave no time period for the operation, which was launched days after President Vladimir Putin led a meeting of the country's Security Council.

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Putin has pushed the North Caucasus insurgency, rooted in two separatist wars in Chechnya, back to the forefront of national politics.