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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Russia rebels kill official

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) - Insurgents in Russia's volatile southern region of Dagestan blew up a local prosecutor on Tuesday and then ambushed the regional police chief as he rushed to the scene, police said.

The police chief escaped the ambush but two police officers accompanying him died of their injuries, said a source at the hospital where they were taken.

Bitar Bitarov, prosecutor of the town of Buinaksk, died in hospital after a roadside bomb exploded as he was driven to work, a police duty officer said.

Gunmen fired on the cortege of Dagestan's interior minister, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov, when he approached the spot of the first attack less than an hour later.

Assassinations and bomb blasts are common in mainly Muslim Dagestan, a mainly Muslim region. An anti-Moscow insurgency has spread into Dagestan from neighboring
Chechnya, but organized crime is also behind much of the violence.

The dead prosecutor's driver and bodyguard were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained in the first attack, said officials.

After the second attack, Interior Ministry troops and heavy armor were sent to the scene. Russian television showed the troops in woodland searching for insurgents.
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