January 10, 2008 / 3:30 PM / 10 years ago

Russia forces kill 6 rebels in Dagestan

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MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Russian troops have killed six rebels during a special forces operation in Dagestan, an interior ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

"It was part of a major operation against the militants," the spokesman said.

The operation took place in the Tabasaransky region of southern Dagestan, a mainly Muslim area on the border with Chechnya.

Russian forces are trying to eliminate Islamist militants in the north Caucasus who say they are fighting the Russian empire and want to set up an independent Islamic state in the region.

Russian forces and Islamist militants have fought two wars in Chechnya since 1994, scarring the north Caucasus region and killing thousands of people.

Violence has spilt over into the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia. (Reporting by Moscow newsroom; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Stephen Weeks)

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