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    Four militants killed in Russia's North Caucasus

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    Russian Police have killed four militants in the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan, a local police representative said on Friday.

    Russian Police have killed four militants in the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan, a local police representative said on Friday.

    The militants opened fire at police officers after their car was stopped for document checks late on Thursday in the Dagestani Khasavyurt district. They were killed in retaliatory fire.

    "Four people were killed in return fire," the spokesman said, adding that their identities would soon be established.

    A fire started in one of the cars as a result of the shootout, the spokesman said.

    Police found a gun and a grenade in one of the cars and three guns with ammunition in the other.

    Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus republics, especially Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, have seen an upsurge of militant violence lately, with frequent attacks on police and officials.

    At least 30 people were injured on Tuesday when a car packed with around 40 kg of TNT exploded near a cafe in downtown Pyatigorsk.

    The Kremlin has pledged to wage "a ruthless fight" against militant groups but also acknowledges the need to tackle unemployment, organized crime, clan rivalry and corruption as causes of the ongoing violence.

    Moscow announced an end to its decade-long antiterrorism campaign against separatists in Chechnya in April 2009, but has since had to step up the fight against militants as skirmishes and attacks on police and other officials have continued.

    Authorities in Dagestan are planning to form military units enlisting local residents to fight militants in remote mountainous areas of the region, Kommersant Russian daily said earlier this month.

     

    MAKHACHKALA, August 20 (RIA Novosti)

     

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