Rebel leader killed in SRussia shootout -Russia

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NAZRAN, Russia, Sep 27 (Reuters) Russian forces today killed a rebel commander during a raid in the troubled south Russian republic of Ingushetia, the Ingush interior ministry said.

The ministry said Sait-Magomed Galaev, born in 1983, leader of a regional Ingush rebel group, was killed in the shootout. Another rebel also died in the clash in a village outside the main city Nazran.

Two police were also wounded in the shootout.

Violence has gripped Russia's north Caucasus region since 1994 when the first of two wars between Russian soldiers and Chechen rebels broke out. Chechnya has stabilised over the last few years but the fighting has spilt over and the focus this summer has shifted firmly to Ingushetia.

Barely a day passes without a shooting, bombing or kidnapping in the Muslim republic. The Russian government has tripled the number of soldiers in the region and have in the past few weeks often said they have killed important rebel leaders in shootouts.

REUTERS ARB SSC1327

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