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5 militants killed in southern Russia

Five Islamic militants have been killed in two separate incidents in the violence-plagued Russian province of Dagestan, officials said Sunday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Five Islamic militants have been killed in two separate incidents in the violence-plagued Russian province of Dagestan, officials said Sunday.

Two militants were gunned down Sunday in the provincial capital, Makhachkala, after police surrounded and stormed a house where a group of wanted terrorists was hiding, regional Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said.

One of them was identified as a former riot police officer who headed a local terrorist group responsible for attacks on police and federal forces, he said.

In nationally televised footage, police and military officers were seen showing rifles, grenades and other ammunition taken from the house.

In a separate incident late Saturday, a car with three men inside exploded during a shootout with police in the Kumtorkala district, Tolchinsky said. The men were part of a local terrorist group and were transporting explosives, he said.

Dagestan and other provinces in Russia's heavily Muslim North Caucasus are mired in violence stemming from two 1990s wars between separatist rebels in Chechnya and Russia's government.

The region is increasingly wracked by bombings and almost daily clashes among police, militants and criminal gangs.