ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — Two masked gunmen burst into a cafe in Russia's restive Caucasus region Wednesday and shot dead four traffic policemen on their lunch break, officials said.
One other policeman was hospitalized in critical condition following the attack in Chegem, a small town in the Caucasus province of Kabardino-Balkaria, Alexei Kolupayev, a police spokesman for the North Caucasus Federal District, told The Associated Press.
The suspects escaped with their Kalashnikov rifles in a commandeered taxi, Kolupayev said.
Law enforcement officials come under regular attack in southern Russia from Islamist rebels seeking an independent Caucasus emirate. Human rights activists say the violence is provoked by the mistreatment of peaceful locals by authorities under the pretext of fighting extremism.