Official sources in Dagestan say a policeman and two rebels were killed in a shootout in the turbulent southern Russian republic. It is reported that at least nine other people were wounded, including a civilian. The gunmen had blockaded themselves in a flat which special forces surrounded and stormed.
The incident happened in Kizilyurt, northwest of the regional capital Makhachkala. Dagestan has suffered from an overspill of violence from neighbouring Chechnya, where guerrillas have fought Russian rule for many years.
“The gun battle was so intense that the whole building shook,” one resident said. “We were very afraid. Then the special forces knocked on our door and said ‘quick, get out, the block’s surrounded.’ They told us there were bandits there.”
Firefights are fairly common in Dagestan. Russian authorities blame unrest on Islamic militants with suspected Chechen connections and on organised crime.