September 17, 2008 / 8:15 AM / 11 years ago

Russian forces kill 10 militants in Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) - Russian security services killed at least 10 militants overnight in the turbulent North Caucasus region of Dagestan, local security officials said on Wednesday.

Security forces are waging a campaign in Dagestan against armed groups driven by a combination of Islamist militancy, organised crime and clan rivalries.

Officers from Russia’s internal security service, the FSB, ambushed the separatists as they transported arms and explosives along a road near the village of Tsmur, an FSB official said.

“Special services fired rocket grenades at a ‘Gazelle’ minibus, where the militants were located, and as a result 10 militants were destroyed,” the FSB’s press service in Dagestan said.

An FSB officer was wounded at the scene and died later in hospital, the spokesman added.

On September 8 three Russian policemen were killed in a gunfight with militants in the same region.

Security officials in Dagestan say some of the men killed in the latest operation are part of the same militant group which was involved in the September 8 gunfight and previous attacks.

Situated between the Caspian Sea and Chechnya, Dagestan has a population of 2.5 million people and is one of Russia’s poorest regions. It is also a patchwork of dozens of different ethnic groups.

Analysts say poverty and a heavy-handed crackdown on mosques that are not officially-endorsed are driving young men into the militant movement.

Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Matthew Jones

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