Gunmen kill four police Russian Caucasus: official

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Gunmen shot dead four police on Wednesday in Russia's volatile Northern Caucasus region where Moscow is fighting Islamist rebels.

"Four police died," a spokeswoman for regional investigators told AFP, adding the latest shootout took place near Nalchik in the Kabardino-Balkaria region.

Five traffic policemen were having lunch at a local cafe when the unidentified assailants broke into the eatery and opened fire, the spokeswoman said.

"As a result of the criminal action four policemen died of gunshot wounds on the spot, while another one sustained severe injuries and is now receiving treatment," the Moscow-based investigators said in a statement, adding that the attackers had managed to flee the scene.

Kabardino-Balkaria is located near the volatile regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, where the authorities are battling a Muslim insurgency and attacks on government officials are a near-daily occurrence.

On Monday, a senior policeman from the region and his driver were wounded by a booby trap bomb when they spotted a hand-made sign reading "The Caucasus Emirate. The south-eastern sector" and the policeman reached out to remove it.

The Caucasus Emirate, the best known rebel group in the Caucasus, is fighting to impose an Islamic state in the Northern Caucasus.

Authorities have found several similar signs in Kabardino-Balkaria in the past days, the spokeswoman for the regional investigators said.

Officials in Moscow said the masterminds of last month's suicide bombing attack at Domodedovo Airport that killed 36 people and injured more than 150 hailed from the Northern Caucasus.

© 2011 AFP

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