Gunmen kill four people in Russia


Gunmen killed three policemen and a passerby in Dagestan in southern Russia today, news agencies said, a region where increased violence could destabilise the whole country.

The attackers fired at a police checkpoint in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala at around 8.40 p.m. (1740 GMT) before fleeing. The policemen returned fired and killed one of the attackers, a police source told RIA Novosti news agency.

Over the last two years violence has spread across the north Caucasus from Chechnya, where Russian forces have fought two wars against rebels since 1994.

Bomb attacks and shootouts occur almost daily in Dagestan but a death toll of three policemen, one pedestrian and one of the attackers is higher than usual. In October, five policemen was killed and another nine were wounded in an attack.

A mixture of economic frustration and heavy-handed police tactics make Dagestan a fertile recruitment ground for radical Islamists looking for disenchanted young men, analysts have said.

This week Russian security forces said that intensifying violence in the region could destabilise the entire country.