Five suspected rebels killed in Russia's Dagestan: officials
Russian authorities killed five suspected rebels in the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan who opened fire on police as they attempted to stop their car, officials said on Wednesday.
The latest skirmish between authorities and militants took place during an attempted identity check late Tuesday in the town of Khasavyurt near Chechnya, the site of two bloody wars with separatists in the 1990s.
"Five members of an illegal armed group have been eliminated by return fire," the regional interior ministry said in a statement. Three automatic rifles and ammunition were found in the car during a search, it said.
The statement identified four of the five men, saying they were in their early twenties to early thirties.
Dagestan is part of Russia's volatile North Caucasus region where authorities are battling an Islamist insurgency and where shootings and bomb attacks are nearly a daily occurrence.
Analysts say poverty and corruption create a fertile ground for violence and help Islamist militants recruit young people in the region.
In the nearby region of Ingushetia, opposition activists announced plans to combat widespread lawlessness by reviving a traditional council of elders, based on ancient gatherings of chieftains.
"The Constitution and the Penal Code do not work in Ingushetia," members of the opposition said in a statement sent to AFP late Tuesday.
"Masked armed groups kidnap people and take them out of the republic with the aim of extrajudicial executions."
The council of elders was first revived in 2008 but suspended after celebrated military commander Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was appointed the region's leader in October that year and pledged to bring order to Ingushetia.
A political crisis has plagued the region in recent months with the opposition accusing Yevkurov of failing to deliver on his promises.
Yevkurov himself barely survived an attempt on his life last year.
© 2010 AFP