3 commandos, 11 militants killed in Georgia

Associated Press
Georgian servicemen ride along a road at the village of Lapankuri, some 175 km (108 miles) east of Tbilisi Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. Georgian troops blocked a gorge on the Georgian-Russian state border where an unknown armed group was detected on Wednesday, according to an Internal Affairs Ministry statement. (AP Photo/ Irakli Gedenidze, Pool)

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — At least 3 Georgian commandos and 11 militants have been killed during an operation to free hostages held along Georgia's border with Russia, authorities said Wednesday.

The police operation was launched Wednesday after militants from Russia's Dagestan province, which has been plagued by extremist Islamist insurgents, crossed into Georgia and took five people captive.

Georgia's Deputy Interior Minister Nodar Kharshiladze told The Associated Press that the militants freed the hostages, but that they then opened fire on security forces after being asked to surrender.

Kharshiladze confirmed the death tolls. Several militants also were wounded, Georgian TV station Imedi reported. The hostages were believed to be civilians.

Islamist militants used Georgian districts adjacent to the Russian border as hideouts during two wars between Chechen separatists and Russian forces.