MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said security forces had killed six militants on Tuesday in a raid on a forest hideout and a firefight at a house in the North Caucasus, a mainly Muslim region where the Kremlin is fighting an Islamist insurgency.
More than a decade after Moscow reasserted federal control over Chechnya following two separatist wars, it is still struggling to contain violence by insurgents seeking to carve out an Islamic state in Russia’s south.
Russia’s Anti-terrorism Committee (NAK) said five militants, including wanted rebel leaders, were killed in a forest on the border of the Derbent and Tabasaran districts of Dagestan, the current focus of insurgent violence.
It said one of the insurgent leaders committed a series of murders last year, including the shooting of two village officials and the director of a local middle school.
The NAK said another militant was killed in a raid on a home in the village of Galashky in the nearby province of Ingushetia after a person inside opened fire on security forces, the NAK said.
A suicide belt, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and grenades were seized in the raid, and experts were brought in to make safe two homemade bombs, it said.
Bomb attacks on police checkpoints and shootings targeting officials are a near daily occurrence in Dagestan.
Security risks in the region are in the spotlight ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which Russia will host in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, at the western end of the Caucasus mountains.
Reporting By Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Pravin Char