Seven Russian police killed in Dagestan: reports
Gunmen Thursday killed at least seven Russian police officers in a shooting rampage in the turbulent North Caucasus region of Dagestan, news agencies quoted police as saying.
Police chased the assailants, and blocked their vehicle, which ignited and exploded in the resultant shooting. Four gunmen were killed, RIA Novosti reported.
The attackers had stolen a car in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala before shooting police on duty in two locations in the city centre, killing six on the spot. Another later died of his wounds.
"According to our revised figures, the two attacks occurred on Thursday afternoon," resulting in the death of six traffic police officers, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted officials as saying.
Three more policemen were admitted to hospital, one of whom died from his wounds on the operating table, Interfax reported.
The shooting spree also wounded civilians, three of whom were taken to a hospital in Makhachkala, located on the shore of the Caspian Sea.
Militants have targeted policemen in Dagestan, the North Caucasus' most populous republic bordering Chechnya, on a near weekly basis in the past months.
The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya, which neighbours Dagestan to the west.
After a second war in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.
Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus such as Dagestan and Ingushetia.
© 2010 AFP