Senior officers among seven killed in Caucasus: reports

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Seven people including three senior military officers were killed in a spate of attacks by militants in Russia's unrest-plagued North Caucasus region, reports said Saturday.

The officers died when they came under fire late Friday in the town of Buynaksk in the region of Dagestan, Russian news agencies and state television reported.

Two lieutenant colonels -- the head of the armaments department in the local chief of staff and another senior officer in the department -- died on the spot, state television said.

The third officer, the head of the rocket and artillery weaponry service for the 136th motorcycle brigade, died on his way to hospital.

Two hours later, a Russian serviceman was killed when unidentified individuals entered inside the military base in Buynaksk and stabbed him after stealing his mobile phone, news agencies said.

It was not immediately clear if the two incidents were linked.

In another fatal attack in Dagestan, the chief administrator in the village of Cherniayevka in the Kizlyar district was shot and killed near his house, an official from Dagestan's interior ministry said, Interfax reported.

The authorities have been battling a persistent Islamist-inspired insurgency in the Caucasus that has claimed scores of lives annually over the past years in the regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Meanwhile, two interior ministry troops were killed in Chechnya by gunfire from unknown individuals in a forest region as they provided security for a military convoy, the RIA Novosti news agency said, quoting local investigators.

Another soldier was wounded and hospitalised, it added.

Moscow fought two wars against Chechen separatists in the 1990s and is still battling to pacify the North Caucasus region which remains one of the Kremlin's biggest domestic problems.

Earlier this week, militants killed two guards and set off explosions when they stormed a hydroelectric plant in Kabardino-Balkaria, another Caucasus region that is starting to be blighted by unrest.

© 2010 AFP

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