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4 militants, 3 officers killed in shootout in Dagestan, Russian news agency says

By Jason Hanna and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 1820 GMT (0220 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The clash occurred at a house in the Dagestan village of Karlanyurt, RIA Novosti reports
  • It says at least 5 officers were injured in the clash, which came amid an anti-terror operation
  • Russia has been trying to address security concerns before the Winter Olympics
  • Security fears have been heightened after bombings in Volgograd last month

(CNN) -- Four militants and three Russian security force members were killed Wednesday in a shootout in the Russian republic of Dagestan, Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing anti-terror officials.

The shootout came amid an anti-terror operation at a house in the Dagestan village of Karlanyurt, the officials told RIA Novosti.

At least five officers were also injured in the shootout, the agency added.

The confrontation, news of which spread first on Twitter, came as Russian security forces have tried to address security concerns before next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, about a 13-hour drive west of Karlanyurt. It also comes amid years of unrest and an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region.

Putin: Sochi is ready for the Olympics
Russia ramps up security before Olympics

Concerns about security in Russia were heightened after twin bombings on public transit that killed more than 30 people in the southern city of Volgograd at the end of last month.

Security tightened

With weeks to go until the games begin, a huge security operation has swung into gear around Sochi.

A special exclusion zone went into force last week, under which only Sochi-marked vehicles, emergency transport or specially accredited intelligence service cars will be allowed into the wider Sochi area.

Air traffic and sea access will be restricted, and everyone going into the zone will have to go through heavy security and identity checks.

Russia is pouring huge resources into ensuring that the Games, seen as a flagship project of President Vladimir Putin, go off without incident.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Volgograd, but suspicion has fallen on Chechen separatist groups.

A bitter battle for an independent Chechnya, lasting almost two decades, spawned an insurgency that has spilled into neighboring republics in the North Caucasus region, including Dagestan.

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, leader of the Islamist Caucasus Emirate group, last summer called on his followers to do what they could to disrupt the Games. He says they will be held on the graves of Muslim occupants of Sochi, who he says were driven out by Russian imperial forces in the 19th century.

Despite the shock waves from the Volgograd attack, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he was confident that Russia would keep the Winter Olympics safe.

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