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Chechen Officials Say Four 'Militants' Killed In Grozny

GROZNY, Russia -- Authorities in Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya say police in the regional capital, Grozny, have killed "four militants."

Media reports quoted sources in local law enforcement as saying that two officers of the National Guard were killed and a police officer was wounded during the special operation on October 13.

Other sources, including the state TASS news agency, said that three law enforcement officers also were killed during the shoot-out.

According to the officials, the special operation lasted for 30 minutes and the house where the "militants" were hiding was burned to the ground.

Two days earlier, Chechen officials said they killed two other "militants" in the west of the region.

It is not possible to verify if the killed persons were militants, as the Kremlin-backed leader of the region, Ramzan Kadyrov, often calls any individual who resists his authoritarian rule "militants" or "terrorists."

On October 12, authorities in the neighboring Russian region of Daghestan said police killed two men after they opened fire at law enforcement officers.

Chechnya, Daghestan, and Russia's other mostly Muslim-populated North Caucasus regions are the site of frequent fighting between government forces and militants whose insurgency stems from two post-Soviet separatist wars in Chechnya.

The volatile North Caucasus in recent years has also been at the epicenter of organized criminal gang violence linked to business turf wars, political disputes, clan rivalries, and the spread of militant Islam.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax