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Troops clash with militants in Ingushetia, south Russia

RIA Novosti

24/05/2008 14:51 (Recasts para. 2, adds details in paras. 4-6)

MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Interior Ministry troops were involved in a shootout with militants on Saturday morning in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, a local police source said.

No troops were injured in the clash, which occurred at around 10:00 a.m. Moscow time in the Sunzhensky District, the source told RIA Novosti, adding that there was no information on fatalities among the illegal armed group.

"Troops clashed with a group of nine gunmen, about 1 kilometer from the town of Gandalbos, and then about 3 kilometers from the town another clash occurred with another group of militants numbering about 30."

However, a spokesman for the Ingush Interior Ministry said that the ministry has no information confirming the shootouts in the republic.

The spokesman said that on Friday two Interior Ministry troops were wounded after an unidentified explosive device went off in the Sunzhensky District.

"They were both hospitalized and the doctors say their lives are not in danger," he said.

Sporadic terrorist attacks and militant clashes remain common in Russia's North Caucasus republics, although the active phase of the Kremlin campaign to fight militants and terrorists in Chechnya is officially over. Violence often spills over into neighboring republics, in particular Ingushetia and Daghestan.

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