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STAVROPOL, Russia -- Five residents of the North Caucasian town of Zelenokumsk remain hospitalized after a shootout between ethnic Russians and Chechens, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Doctors say all five men are in stable condition. Eight people -- seven Russians and one Chechen, who was reportedly hit on the head with a brick -- were reportedly injured when a group of Russian men tried to stop four Chechens from forcing a girl into their car on November 27.

The Chechens responded by opening fire on the Russians. They said they did so in self-defense.

Three Chechens were subsequently arrested. Police say they confiscated a hunting rifle and two pistols and found bullets from a Kalashnikov rifle at the scene of the incident.

Local officials said the incident was not racially motivated but deployed Interior Ministry troops to Zelenokumsk to prevent possible reprisals.

Stavropol Krai Deputy Chairman Sergei Ushakov told journalists on November 27 that the conflict was "everyday hooliganism" and the situation in the region is "stable."

There have been several violent incidents in recent months between various ethnic groups in the region, where ethnic Russians make up about 80 percent of the population.
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