Several people have been killed in the latest upsurge in violence in Russia’s northern Caucasus region.Seven women were shot dead in a sauna in Dagestan on Thursday afternoon in an attack authorities have blamed on Islamist militants. The victims were killed at around the same time as separatists attacked and killed four policemen manning a nearby checkpoint close to the local capital, Makhachkala. There has been a sharp rise in violence against civilians across the region. A local minister was shot dead in his office earlier this week. Four policemen have been killed and five other security officers have been injured in separate clashes this week in neighbouring Chechnya and Ingushetia.