MAKHACHKALA, Russia - Five militants and one police officer were killed in fighting in Russia's North Caucasus province of Dagestan on Saturday, law enforcement authorities said.
Security forces exchanged gunfire with militants they discovered in the basement of a kindergarten in a village near Russia's border with ex-Soviet Georgia, the Moscow-based National Anti-terrorism Committee said in a statement.It said one police officer was killed and three others were wounded in the fighting with the militants, four of whom it said were wanted for killings in the area over the past two years.
Russian news agencies reported that most of the fighting took place after the gunmen took refuge in a home in the village of Khutrakh. The home was destroyed, Interfax agency reported.
Mostly Muslim Dagestan is beset by near-daily shootings and bomb attacks, many of them targeting police or officials and most blamed on an Islamist insurgency stemming from years of separatist conflict in neighboring Chechnya.
Militants in the North Caucasus say they are fighting for a separate Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia's southern border. Rights activists say the insurgency is fueled by poverty and anger at police tactics.