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Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 11:17 UK

Violence flares in North Caucasus

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Russian security forces have shot dead five militants in Chechnya, bringing the total killed in the North Caucasus to 17 in three days, officials say.

The five were shot dead in two separate incidents on Monday.

Officials said two were killed after opening fire on police when asked to show documents, and three others were shot after refusing to stop their car.

They followed other shootings in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia that killed 12 others at the weekend.

On Sunday, five rebels were killed in Dagestan while another three were shot dead in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Four others died in a gun battle with troops in Ingushetia on Saturday.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said Azamat Makhauri, a rebel leader "who called himself the emir of Ingushetia" was among those killed in the latter operation, in the Sunja region, which borders Chechnya.

Mr Kadyrov has said he was asked by the Kremlin to take overall charge of the security forces in Ingushetia after its president, President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was wounded in an apparent assassination attempt.

This has been disputed by Ingush officials.

Last week, nine Chechen policemen were killed when militants attacked their vehicle during a joint operation inside Ingushetia.

The Chechen interior ministry has so far not said if there were any casualties among the security forces in Monday's incidents, but a policeman was reported to have been killed in Dagestan on Sunday.

In April, Russia announced that its 10-year "anti-terrorist" operation in Chechnya was over, as the republic was effectively at peace.

However, violence has continued in isolated incidents in Chechnya, while in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia it has spiralled.



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