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Russian Forces Kill 10 Militants In Daghestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) -- Russian security services have killed at least 10 militants overnight in the turbulent North Caucasus region of Daghestan, local security officials said.

Security forces are waging a campaign in Daghestan against armed groups driven by a combination of Islamist militancy, organized crime, and clan rivalries.

Officers from Russia's internal Federal Security Service (FSB) ambushed the separatists as they transported arms and explosives along a road near the village of Tsmur, an FSB official said.

"Special services fired rocket grenades at a 'Gazelle' minibus, where the militants were located, and as a result 10 militants were destroyed," the FSB's press service in Daghestan said.

An FSB officer was wounded at the scene and died later in hospital, the spokesman added.

On September 8, three Russian policemen were killed in a gunfight with militants in the same region.

Security officials in Daghestan say some of the men killed in the latest operation are part of the same militant group that was involved in the September 8 gunfight and previous attacks.

Situated between the Caspian Sea and Chechnya, Daghestan has a population of 2.5 million people and is one of Russia's poorest regions. It is also a patchwork of dozens of different ethnic groups.

Analysts say poverty and a heavy-handed crackdown on mosques that are not officially endorsed are driving young men into the militant movement.