The Russian Interior Ministry says a police officer and five suspected rebels have been killed in a gunbattle in the restive province of Dagestan in the North Caucasus.

Vyacheslav Gasanov, a spokesman for the ministry's branch in Dagestan, said the clash occurred Saturday when unidentified gunmen opened fire on police conducting a security sweep.

They killed one policeman and wounded three others. Police fired back, killing three attackers. Another two militants took cover in a private house, but were also eventually killed by security forces.

The Caspian Sea province has become the epicenter of an Islamic insurgency that spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. Shootings, bombings and police security raids occur on daily basis in Dagestan that borders Chechnya to the east.