Three police wounded, four rebels killed in Russian Caucasus

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Three law enforcement officers were injured and four suspected insurgents killed in a raid on Wednesday in the troubled Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan, the national anti-terrorism committee said.

Police and officers from the FSB security service early Wednesday cornered a group of suspected rebels in a building in the town of Khasavyurt, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the national anti-terrorism committee.

"The rebels decided to break out as residents were evacuated from nearby homes. They tried to clear the way by shooting from a grenade launcher. Three officers were wounded while shielding peaceful citizens," the committee said.

Four suspected rebels were killed as they attempted to escape from encirclement, the committee said, Interfax reported.

In a separate attack late Tuesday, a policeman died in a shootout when the passengers of a car opened fire during a security check in the regional capital of Makhachkala, the region's interior ministry said, adding that one passenger died.

The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the 1991 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.

© 2011 AFP

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