MOSCOW, June 5 (Reuters) - Four suspected rebels and a member of the Russian security forces were killed early on Friday in a shootout in Russia’s turbulent southern region of Ingushetia, Interfax news agency reported.
Ingushetia has overtaken its neighbour Chechnya as the epicentre of violence along Russia’s turbulent southern flank, challenging the Kremlin’s fragile rule and, security forces say, providing a foothold for global networks of Islamist militants.
The battle took place near the village of Muzhichi, 14 kms (9 miles) from the border with Chechnya, after Russian forces engaged a group of 12 gunmen during a reconnaissance operation, Interfax quoted the source as saying.
The incident brings to 26 the number of suspected rebels killed in operations in the border region between Ingushetia and neighbouring Chechnya since May 16, Interfax reported, citing the Interior Ministry.
(Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Michael Roddy)