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Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 14:58 UK

Dozens dead in Russian insurgency

A police car machine-gunned in Nazran, Ingushetia's main city, early March 2009 (still image from Russia TV channel)
Police have been a target in Ingushetia's main city, Nazran

Nearly 50 people died in the south Russian region of Ingushetia in fighting with Islamist rebels between January and March, officials say.

According to police casualty figures, 27 rebels, 18 policemen and two civilians were killed, and 44 people injured, in gun and bomb attacks.

Correspondents say fighting has spilled over from neighbouring Chechnya in recent years.

A similar pattern has emerged in another mainly Muslim region, Dagestan.

The figures for Ingushetia were released just a day after the Russian government announced the official end of the war with separatist rebels in Chechnya, saying they had been defeated.

Hard-core ideology

Fighting continued in Ingushetia despite a change of leadership in October designed to quell growing public anger with the local authorities which has fuelled support for the rebels and their calls for independence, the BBC's Richard Galpin reports.

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Violence in Ingushetia flared up in recent years as a direct consequence of the conflict in neighbouring Chechnya, he says.

The rebels have adopted the same hard-core Islamic ideology while the security forces have used the same brutal methods which have alienated the population, our correspondent adds.

In Chechnya itself, a gun battle erupted between Russian forces and rebels just as Moscow was announcing an end to the war.

Rebels clashed with Russian interior ministry troops in a remote mountain area but there was no report of any casualties.

The rebel movement there has clearly not been fully defeated, our correspondent notes.



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