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Sochi Security: 7 Die in Pre-Olympic Sweep of Russia Militants

As Russian authorities prepare for next month's Sochi Winter Olympics, a sweep for militants led to a shootout in which three Russian servicemen and four gunmen were killed.

Russia's National Anti-terrorism Committee (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.

One of the dead gunmen was a man accused of carrying out a car bomb attack in the city of Pyatigorsk late last year which killed three people, they added.

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.

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.

Reuters