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Two police killed in attack in Russian Caucasus

Attackers set off an explosion and shot at police cars in Russia’s volatile southern region of Dagestan early Tuesday, killing two police and wounding three, the regional interior ministry said.

The ambush targeted five police vehicles driving through the mountainous Tsumadinsky district on a special operation against suspected rebels, a statement said, adding that it occurred just after midnight.

“Unidentified attackers triggered an explosive device and shot at the motorcade,” the ministry said. Two police officers died at the scene and three were hospitalised with gunshot wounds.

A spokesman for Dagestan’s interior ministry told the Interfax news agency that the police cars triggered a landmine in the remote district before attackers opened automatic gunfire.

The deaths came after four officers died from gunshot wounds while carrying out a police special operation in the district on Monday and seven were hospitalised, the ministry said.

Dagestan has experienced some of the deadliest violence in Russia’s mostly Muslim southern periphery since peace was largely restored in neighbouring Chechnya just under a decade ago.

The Caspian Sea region experiences almost daily shootings and bombings that officials blame on local criminals and Islamists with links to Chechnya.

Fuelled by endemic poverty and corruption, the militants are seeking to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus.