Gunbattle in Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan kills one

A gunbattle erupted during a police operation in the troubled Russian Caucasus region of Dagestan, killing at least one gunman Monday, an official said. One other gunman was arrested in the operation in Buinaksk, said Angela Martirosova, a spokeswoman with the Dagestani Interior Ministry. It is about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the regional capital, Makhachkala.

Russian news reports quoted local police officials as saying the gunmen were members of a criminal gang.

The Caspian Sea region is regularly troubled by attacks on law enforcement and local government officials. Some of the violence is blamed on feuding criminal gangs, as well as violence spilling over from neighboring Chechnya.

Meanwhile, Chechen police killed a wanted militant during an operation that also left two officers dead, said Roman Shchekotin, a federal Interior Ministry spokesman. A third officer was wounded in the gunbattle Sunday near the eastern city of Gudermes, he said. Several other gunmen managed to escape, he said. The dead militant was identified as Lecha Askhabov.

Also Sunday, gunmen opened fire on an Interior Ministry checkpoint in the southern Vedeno district, wounding one serviceman, the Chechen Interior Ministry said.

Russian forces and separatist rebels have been fighting in Chechnya for most of the past decade, though the fighting consists mainly of near daily skirmishes or booby-trap explosions. Some of the violence is blamed on criminal gangs.

Separately, a former soldier wielding a knife attacked two soldiers on guard duty Sunday outside a Defense Ministry base in the Shatoi district of southern Chechnya, the regional Interior Ministry said. The attacker, who was allegedly trying to seize the guards' guns, was shot dead after he wounded one of sentries, reports the AP. I.L.

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