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Islamic State claims attacks on police targets in Russia's Chechnya

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Militants in the Russian region of Chechnya staged a series of attacks on police targets on Monday, the leader of the region and law enforcement officials said, and Islamic State claimed responsibility, without providing evidence.

Two knife-wielding assailants tried to enter a police station in Chechnya’s Shalinsky district and assaulted and wounded two police officers, Russian investigators said. Both attackers were shot dead, TASS news agency reported.

In a separate incident in the village of Mesker-Yurt, a young man carrying a rucksack blew himself up at a police post, but did not injure anyone, investigators said.

And in Grozny, the Chechen capital, police opened fire with automatic weapons on a driver in a Mercedes who tried to run down two traffic police officers, according to investigators. The driver was killed, they said.

Moscow has fought two wars with separatists in the mainly Muslim internal republic since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, but such attacks have become relatively rare in Chechnya.

The wider North Caucasus region remains volatile, however, with unemployment and corruption pushing some young men to embrace radical Islam.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who was on a trip to Saudi Arabia when the attacks occurred, said they were designed to overshadow the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Moscow and by Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Heinrich)

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