Shootings kill nine in Russia's N.Caucasus

by reuters | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 24 September 2010 15:51 GMT

MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Unidentified assailants gunned down a school principal in her home in Russia's troubled Dagestan province on Friday, while separate shoot-outs killed eight people across the North Caucasus.

An Islamist insurgency is raging in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region, where rebels angry about poverty and fuelled by the ideology of global jihad want to carve out an independent state governed by sharia law.

Police in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala told Reuters they were looking for two men who had shot dead high school principal Patimat Magomedova with an assault rifle after entering her home.

Separately, police said five rebels including one woman were killed in a shoot-out with federal forces in the village of Kirovaul, some 150 km (95 miles) north of Makhachkala.

In neighbouring Chechnya, three soldiers were killed after an exchange of fire with rebels, Interfax news agency reported citing a law enforcement source.

A decade after separatists were driven from power in the second of two Chechnya wars, the North Caucasus is plagued by near-daily attacks. Dagestan has overtaken Chechnya and Ingushetia as the epicentre of violence. In recent months, attacks on teachers and imams have become more frequent in Dagestan, in what analysts say are attempts by rebels to target those they believe are not abiding by the laws of true Islam.

Dagestani police added that grenades, automatic rifles and ammunition were found on site.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Paul Taylor)

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