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Caucasus attacks kill four Russian police-reports

By Staff
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MOSCOW, Apr 16 (Reuters) Four Russian policemen were killed in two separate attacks in the turbulent North Caucasus region, local news agencies reported today.

Two policemen were killed and five wounded when gunmen ambushed their armoured personnel carrier in Chechnya, RIA news agency quoted a law enforcement official as saying.

One policeman was killed by a roadside bomb and the second died when gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire.

The attack happened yesterday. The gunmen escaped and police were trying to track them down, the official said.

Two police were killed in a separate attack in neighbouring Dagestan today, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Gunmen opened fire on a police unit that was searching for armed rebels, the agency quoted Dagestan's Interior Ministry as saying. Police returned fire, killing one gunman, Itar-Tass said.

The poor and mainly Muslim North Caucasus is a hotbed of violence and instability.

Rebels in Chechnya have been fighting a decade-long war against Moscow's rule. Russian forces and their local allies now control most of Chechnya and large-scale fighting is rare. But rebels continue to launch guerrilla attacks.

In Dagestan, Islamist militants and organised criminals are blamed for frequent attacks on police and local officials.

REUTERS CH BST2258

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