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Russian media has reported that eight rebels and one Interior Ministry soldier have been killed in clashes in the volatile North Caucasus region.

In Ingushetia, Russian security forces say they opened fire on five rebels after they failed to stop in the regional capital, Nazran.

Russia's antiterrorist committee, NAK, says all five rebels were killed and two had belts loaded with explosives.

NAK accused the five of plotting terrorist attacks.

In nearby Daghestan, the Interfax news agency reports that Russian Interior Ministry forces battled rebels in a forest near the village of Kakirkent.

The report said three rebels and one Interior Ministry soldier were killed in the gun battle.

The Kremlin is struggling to contain an Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus and outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev has called the North Caucasus separatist movement Russia's top domestic security problem.

Based on Itar-tass, Reuters, and AFP reporting

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