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Chechnya shooting kills policeman, militant - report

19/07/2009 - 15:32

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A senior police officer and an Islamist militant were killed in Russia's turbulent Chechnya in a late-night shooting on Saturday, media said on Sunday.

The head of the criminal investigation department for a region within the Chechen capital, Grozny, died after militants opened fire from their vehicle, RIA news agency reported, quoting the region's interior ministry.

He and another policeman had stopped the vehicle in Grozny on Saturday night to check the passengers' documents.

"During an attempt to check documents, the criminal opened fire from a (semi-automatic) Makarov pistol at the policemen and then tried to hide," RIA said, quoting Minister Ruslan Alkhanov.

Another official was wounded in the attack and a militant was killed, whose death was praised by www.kavkazcenter.com, an internet site with ties to the Chechen separatist movement.

"One of the mujahideens was martyred," it said, referring to the name Islamist fighters give themselves.

The Chechen interior ministry declined to comment.

Analysts say such attacks are designed to undermine Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ex-rebel turned Kremlin loyalist.

Www.kavkazcenter.com called the policemen "murtady," meaning apostates, or someone who was previously a follower of Islam.

Chechnya, along with neighbouring republics Ingushetia and Dagestan, has become increasingly unstable in recent months.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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