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19 Dead in Chechen Shootout


Russian authorities say 19 people have been killed in a shootout between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's bodyguards and suspected insurgents.

At least five civilians were reported among the dead in the southeastern village of Tsentori, along with 12 attackers and two security officers. The village, located near the border with Dagestan, is the ancestral Kadyrov home.

Kadyrov was in the village at the time and his spokesman says the president took charge of the operation. His press office denied media reports that civilians were killed, but said some villagers had been wounded.

Television footage showed security officers dragging bodies of the dead attackers, and an array of automatic weapons collected from the scene.

Sunday's attack was the second against the Kremlin-appointed Kadyrov in the past eight weeks.

In early July, a suicide bomber in Grozny blew himself up outside a theater where Kadyrov was awaiting the start of a concert. The president was not hurt.

In other North Caucasus violence, police in Kabardino-Balkaria killed four suspected rebels late Saturday traveling in two cars in the Khasavyurt district.

Earlier Saturday, authorities said Russian forces killed nine suspected militants in operations in Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan.

Violence is reported almost daily in Russia's largely-Muslim North Caucasus republics, particularly in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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