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4 Militants, Politician Killed In Southern Russia

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) - Four Islamic militants and a local politician have been killed in drive-by shootings, shootouts with police and accidental bombings in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, officials said Saturday.

Provinces in the mainly Muslim region have been increasingly roiled by violence and clashes between police and Islamic militants.

Two suspected Islamic militants were gunned down Saturday in Nazran, the largest city in the province of Ingushetia, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Also Saturday, a regional leader of the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party was gunned down in the province of Adygeya, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. It said Alexander Loboda was sprayed with bullets from a passing car in the town of Maykop.

Magomed Deniyev, a spokesman for Chechnya's police, said a young Chechen man was killed late Friday in the province's southern Shatoi district after a shootout with police.

And in the neighboring province of Dagestan, police found the body of a man apparently killed Friday by an improvised explosive device. Police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said the man was an Islamic militant who triggered the device by mistake in the Kyzyl-Yurt district.

Chechen rebels have fought two separatist wars against Russian forces since 1994. Major offensives died down about a decade ago, but the Islamic insurgency has spread across neighboring North Caucasus provinces, stoked by poverty, official corruption and abuses against civilians by security forces. Attacks on police and other authorities have become a near-daily occurrence.