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Russian officials say at least eight Islamist militants, four Russian servicemen, and possibly a civilian have been killed in three separate incidents in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

Security officials said three Islamist militants, including the regional leader of an insurgent group seeking to establish an Islamic state in Russia's predominantly Muslim North Caucasus, were killed in Ingushetia.

The men were killed in a shootout early on January 27 in the village of Ekazhevo, which is the hometown of the suicide bomber who killed 37 people at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in January of last year.

Russian officials said all three men killed were members of the outlawed Caucasus Emirate insurgent group, led by Chechen Doku Umarov, who claimed responsibility for the Domodedovo bombing.

Russia's Antiterrorism Committee said one of the men killed, Dzhamaleil Mutaliyev, was a leader of the insurgency in Ingushetia.

Shoot-Out In Daghestan

Also on January 27, four Russian servicemen and five suspected Islamist rebels were killed in a clash in the neighboring Republic of Daghestan.

Security officials said the men were killed in a shoot-out during a security operation in Daghestan's Kizlyar district.

Russian National Antiterrorism Committee spokesman Nikolai Sintsov told reporters that a cache of weapons had been found.

"During the search of the militants' hideout, [security forces] found a homemade explosive device equivalent to 15 kilograms of TNT," he said. "Due to the danger of an explosion, the bomb was destroyed on-site."

Sintsov added that "ammunition of various calibers, uniforms, and a explosives belt ready for use" had also been found.

In another restive Russian province, Kabardino-Balkaria, masked gunmen stormed into a school and stabbed a man in the gym. Some reports said the victim was a Russian soldier.

The North Caucasus suffers from almost daily attacks blamed on separatist insurgents and criminal gangs.

The region includes Chechnya, where Russia fought two wars against separatist rebels in the 1990s.

compiled from agency reports

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