Nine dead, four injured in North Caucasus clashes
Nine people have been killed and four injured
in several exchanges of gunfire in the disputed Russian North Caucasus region,
Four police officers and two rebels were killed and four police officers injured in a gun battle near the village of Dargo in the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya.
In mid-June, Islamist rebels shot dead three villagers in Benoy- Vedeno and set several houses alight.
In the semi-autonomous republic of Dagestan, three members of a rebel gang were killed in the capital Makhachkala during a police raid.
The heavily armed members of a terrorist group, which included a woman, had holed up on the fourth floor of a high-rise building, a spokesman for the authorities said.
After they refused to respond to requests to give themselves up, a special unit stormed the flat and killed the three of them, the spokesman said.
The four police officers in Chechnya were killed Friday evening during a operation by the security forces, the spokesman added.
Grenade launchers were found with the two rebels who were shot dead during that operation.
The rebels managed to hit an armoured personnel carrier during the clashes.
The troubled North Caucasus region has remained restive even under new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The situation in Chechnya has improved greatly since two wars were fought there in the 1990s, but there are still frequent skirmishes.
Islamist groups in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia also clash frequently with the pro-Russian authorities.