Five militants were killed late on Tuesday during a counter-terrorism operation in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, a local law enforcement source said.
“During a special operation in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, police attempted to intercept a sedan with five passengers who responded with gunfire,” the source said. “All five were killed in the ensuing skirmish.”
Three of the killed militants have been identified as leaders of a local militant gang responsible for a number of serious crimes, including attacks on police and officials.
“Experts are trying to ID the two remaining bodies,” the source said, adding that sappers are sweeping the cordoned-off site for explosive devices.
Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region has been the site of a low-intensity Islamic insurgency in recent years, where fundamentalists have carried out attacks against local officials and religious leaders with the intent of establishing Islamic Sharia law.
Dagestan remains the bloodiest of the republics, followed by Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
The Russian authorities have moved to improve the poor economic conditions in the North Caucasus republics and curb unemployment, which are considered to be the main factors driving local residents to join militant groups.