1 policeman, 8 rebels killed in Russia

A Russian police officer and eight insurgents have been killed in clashes in the country's south Sunday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry of the province of Dagestan said.

Vyacheslav Gasanov said an officer and three rebels were killed early Sunday when police discovered an encampment in the woods near Chechnya. He said clashes continued in the region later in the day and that seven fighters were killed in all.

Also Sunday, police reported that an insurgent was killed and two others detained in an operation in the city of Astrakhan. Police said the men were believed to be preparing terrorist attacks for Monday, when Russia observes the end of European fighting in World War II, one of the country's major secular holidays.

The Caucasus region that includes Dagestan has been plagued by insurgent violence since the first Chechen war broke out in 1994. The insurgents in Astrakhan were described as being Caucasus natives.