Russia's National Anti-terrorism Committee (NAC) said the dead
gunmen included a man accused of carrying out a car bomb attack in
the city of Pyatigorsk late last year which killed three people.
Russia in on high alert following two suicide bombings in southern
Russia last month that fuelled security concerns before the
Olympics, which Islamist militants waging an insurgency in the North
Caucasus have threatened to attack.
President Vladimir Putin has staked a lot of personal and political
prestige on the success of the Games, which open on February 7, and
has put security forces on combat alert in Sochi.
The NAC said in a statement that a group of militants had been
trapped in a house in the village of Karlanyurt in the Dagestan
region of the North Caucasus. Five officers were also wounded in
what a spokesman called a special operation.
Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, is about 620 km (385 miles) east of
Sochi. The mostly Muslim region is plagued by bombings and shootings
that mainly target police and state officials as part of the
militants' fight to create an Islamist state.
At least 34 people were killed last month in the suicide bombings in
the southern city of Volgograd. Putin ordered safety measures to be
beefed up nationwide after the attacks.
About 37,000 personnel are now in place to provide security in
Sochi, which is on the Black Sea and on the western edge of the
Caucasus mountains, and the International Olympic Committee has
expressed confidence the Games will be safe.
[to top of second column]
But, underlining the danger of attacks, security forces said on
Saturday they had arrested five members of a banned militant group
in southern Russia and defused a homemade bomb packed with shrapnel.
The main spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, whose
responsibilities include looking into bombings and other attacks,
appealed to civilians on Tuesday to be more vigilant and help avert
the threat of "terrorist" attacks.
(Reporting by Ludmila Danilova; writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing
by Timothy Heritage)
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