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Seven killed in N Caucasus clash

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Aftermath of the explosion in Nazran, Ingushetia

Four Russian policemen and three suspected rebels have been killed in fighting in Ingushetia, in Russia's troubled North Caucasus, officials say.

Gunmen opened fire and then detonated a landmine when police tried to get into a house in the city of Nazran, the Ingush president said.

The blast killed four policemen and the gunmen, as well as destroying the two-storey house, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said.

Muslim militants have repeatedly clashed with Ingush security forces.

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The BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says the clash on Thursday is one of the most serious incidents in the mainly Muslim republic.

It is not clear exactly how many rebels were inside the house at the time. Other buildings in the neighbourhood were damaged.

Security officials are quoted as saying the suspected rebels were suicide bombers, for whom the police had been searching.

Just four months ago, Moscow changed the leadership in Ingushetia, fearing that otherwise violence there would spin out of control.

The arrival of President Yevkurov had brought about something of a lull in the fighting - until now, our correspondent says.

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