MOSCOW (Reuters) - Thirteen armed men were killed in clashes with police in Russia's republics of Daghestan and Chechnya in the latest outburst of violence in the turbulent North Caucasus, local media and police said.
On July 11, security forces in the nearby region of Ingushetia killed four militants, including a rebel leader.
The shooting in Daghestan broke out near the town of Khasavyurt after policemen tried to stop a car without number plates. The five passengers in the car fired on the police, the Vesti-24 television channel said.
"The police returned fire, killing all five in the car," the television report said. "Three rebels have already been identified."
Relative calm has been restored in neighboring Chechnya, where federal troops have fought two wars against pro-independence rebels since the mid-1990s.
But underscoring the fragility of Chechnya's stability, clashes between armed men and police erupted on July 12 in two rural districts and the Chechen capital of Grozny.
Eight militants carrying automatic weapons were killed in the shooting, Chechnya's Interior Ministry said on its site www.mvdchr.ru. It did not say if there were losses among police.
"Prompt actions are now being taken to track down and detain members of illegal armed units and their collaborators," Chechen police said in the statement.
From Chechnya, violence regularly spills over into the mainly Muslim regions of Ingushetia and Daghestan, where tough officialdom, deep-rooted corruption, and poverty push many young people to join the rebels.
Earlier this month, nine Chechen policemen were gunned down in Ingushetia in one of the deadliest attacks in the volatile North Caucasus region in recent years.
They had been sent by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov after a suicide bomb attack against Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who is now in a Moscow hospital in serious condition.