NALCHIK, Russia — At least 14 suspected militants and a police officer have been killed during three raids in the country's volatile North Caucasus region, police said Saturday.

Nine suspected militants were killed in two separate shootouts with police in the Kabardino-Balkariya republic late Friday, a police spokesman Roman Golubev told The Associated Press. Two of those killed were suspected of organizing a bombing in May that killed one man and wounded dozens of others, Russia's main investigative body, said in a statement.

Separately, five suspected militants and a police officer were killed in another shootout Friday in the republic of Dagestan, said a local police spokesman Magomed Tagirov.

The men allegedly belonged to a group led by warlord Magomedali Vagabov who was behind the Moscow metro bombings in April that 40 killed people and left scores wounded, the statement said. Vagabov, whose 28-year-old wife carried out one of the suicide attacks, was killed in a shootout with security forces in Dagestan last week, authorities said.

Security forces were searching the mountains outside the village of Gubden for the group's remaining members on Saturday, Dagestan's police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said.

Russia has been fighting an insurgency in its southern regions following two wars in Chechnya in the past 15 years. The militants say they seek an Islamic emirate across the North Caucasus.

Rights activists say the militant's attacks are in part provoked by extrajudicial killings, torture and kidnappings allegedly carried out by police under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

While violence has subsided in Chechnya, militants are becoming increasingly active in neighboring regions.

Dagestan's leader appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this month to bolster security forces in the republic, citing a surge in terrorist activity.

Associated Press writers Sergey Venyavsky in Rostov-on-Don and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.