Headmistress gunned down in Russian Caucasus

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Masked attackers shot dead the headmistress of a school at her home in the volatile Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan, prosecutors said Friday.

Two attackers carrying a pistol and a machine gun shot the woman at her home in the city of Makhachkala late on Thursday, and she "died from her wounds on the spot," Russian prosecutors said in a statement.

The headmistress was named by the Dagestan interior ministry as Patimat Magomedova, the headmistress at a school in the village of Shamkhal on the outskirts of Makhachkala.

The FSB security service said Friday evening that its forces were carrying out a special operation in Makhachkala, where a group of rebels were holed up in a private house, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Separately, investigators said that a would-be suicide bomber triggered an explosion early Friday outside a local FSB headquarters in the nearby republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

The unidentified attacker fired a machine gun at the FSB office in the town of Nartkala, causing no injuries, prosecutors said in a statement.

"When he tried to flee the scene, a homemade explosive device on the attacker blew up, killing him," investigators said.

Russia is fighting an increasingly deadly Islamist-fuelled insurgency in the North Caucasus regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, although Kabardino-Balkaria has until recently seen fewer attacks by separatist rebels.

The situation has worsened considerably in Dagestan in the last months and three soldiers were killed earlier this month when a suicide bomber rammed a Russian military base in the region.

© 2010 AFP

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