MOSCOW - Gunmen in Russia's volatile province of Dagestan shot dead the regional leader's top spokesman and his driver on Thursday, state-run news agency RIA reported, citing a local police official.

The attack is the second in a week on officials in the regional capital of Makhachkala. Militants said last Friday they were responsible for the killing of two guards for a regional anti-extremism official.

A decade after federal forces ousted a rebel government in neighboring Chechnya, insurgents aiming to carve an Islamic state from Russia's North Caucasus carry out nearly daily attacks in the region.

Dagestan, wedged between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, has largely become the epicenter of separatist violence, fed by a mix of unemployment, corruption and religion.

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