MOSCOW - Police killed seven suspected militants in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria on Thursday, Russian news agencies reported, citing law enforcement authorities.
Insurgents carry out almost daily attacks in the patchwork of small, mostly Muslim regions along the country's southern border. But violence is less frequent in Kabardino-Balkaria than in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan further southeast.
Preliminary reports indicated that police killed seven militants, two of them women, state-run RIA news agency quoted an unidentified police official as saying.
An official in the National Anti-Terrorist Committee told Itar-Tass, also state-run, that the militants had barricaded themselves inside a private house in the provincial capital, Nalchik, and exchanged fire with law enforcement officers.
Police said that among those killed was a local militant leader. On Tuesday, security forces killed five militants in a short gun battle in Ingushetia, according to the committee.
Militants in the North Caucasus say they are fighting for an Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia's southern border. Rights activists say the insurgency is driven by poverty and anger at the tactics of the security forces.