Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 12:35 UK

'Eight rebels killed' in Dagestan

Map of Dagestan

At least eight suspected militants have been killed by Russian security forces in the troubled southern republic of Dagestan, local officials have said.

The men were shot dead by members of the Federal Security Service during an hour-long gun battle in a forest near the capital, Makhachkala, they added.

In neighbouring Chechnya, a militant was killed during a raid in the Urus-Martanovskiy district, reports say.

The clashes came after a suicide bomber killed six people in Grozny on Sunday.

The man blew himself up after police stopped him while he attempted to gain entry to a concert hall in the Chechen capital.

Growing insurgency

Violence has flared in the North Caucasus in recent months, with dozens of militants and members of the security forces being killed.

In June, the President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was critically injured by a car bomb in an apparent assassination attempt.

Two weeks earlier, Dagestan's interior minister was shot dead.

Russian forces have fought two wars against Islamist separatists in the mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya since 1994. The conflicts claimed more than 100,000 lives and left it in ruins.

Chechnya has in recent years been more peaceful, but the fighting has spread to Dagestan and Ingushetia, where correspondents say a violent Islamist insurgency is growing.

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