March 25, 2014 / 7:42 PM / 5 years ago

Russia says five militants, policeman killed in Caucasus fighting

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian security forces killed five militants, including a suspected organiser of a deadly December car bombing, in a gunbattle on Tuesday in the North Caucasus province of Dagestan, authorities said.

One police officer was killed and one wounded in the shootout, which occurred after police surrounded a home near the town of Khasavyurt on the border with Chechnya, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said.

Dagestan, a mostly Muslim region on the Caspian Sea in southern Russia, is plagued by violence linked to an Islamist insurgency rooted in two post-Soviet separatist war in Chechnya.

The Anti-Terrorism Committee said one of the men killed was a local militant leader who helped organize the car bombing that killed three people in the southern city of Pyatigorsk in late December.

That attack was followed by suicide bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd, another southern city, and raised fears of attacks during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February, although none occurred. The bombings were blamed on members of a militant group in Dagestan.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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