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In Caucasus violence, 4 militants, a police officer killed

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A few days ago, rebels attacked Chechnya's parliament
  • Unrest persists in Dagestan and Ingushetia
  • Thousands have been killed and displaced over the years

Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- A bombing and a shootout caused deaths and injuries on Saturday in Russia's tense Caucasus region, Russian media reported, citing local authorities.

Two militants were killed and two police officers were wounded in a shootout in the republic of Dagestan, according to Ria Novosti and Itar-Tass.

A car bomb in that republic killed a police officer and injured other people, Interfax reported.

In the nearby republic of Ingushetia, two militants were killed when the men opened fire at police after their car was stopped for a security check, Itar-Tass reported.

This comes days after suicide bombers launched an attack on the parliament in nearby Chechnya and killed at least three people, officials told CNN.

Vladimir Markin of the Russian Prosecutor's Office said two police officers and a civilian died in Tuesday's attack. Six other officers and 11 civilians were wounded, he said.

Rebels in Chechnya started out fighting for independence in the 1990s, but in recent years, the fight has been aimed more at imposing Islamist rule and asserting their authority in the area.

In recent years, the insurgency has moved to the east and the west to the republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, where rebels are fighting troops to destabilize the region.

The conflict dates back nearly 20 years, with Chechens having laid claim to land in the Caucasus Mountains region. Thousands have been killed and 500,000 Chechen people have been displaced from the fighting.

The standard of living in the southwestern republic is poor compared with the rest of Russia. Unemployment is rampant and infant mortality is high. In addition, the Chechen population of about 1 million is mostly made up of Sunni Muslims, who maintain a distinctly different cultural and linguistic identity from Russian Orthodox Christians.