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Published: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 9:30:01 PM
Updated: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 9:30:48 PM

Seven militant suspects shot dead in Russia's Dagestan

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Seven suspected militants were killed by security forces in a shootout on Saturday near Makhachkala in Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported, a day after a grenade and bomb attack outside a restaurant in the regional capital injured several people.

A spokesman for Russia's Anti-Terrorist Committee told ITAR-TASS agency those killed were suspected of carrying out Friday's attack in the mostly Muslim Dagestan region.

Interfax news agency, citing the Investigative Committee department for Dagestan, said one woman was among the suspects killed when police stormed a house where they were hiding.

The Dagestan region has been plagued by bombings and shootings that target state and police officials as part of a campaign by militants to create an Islamist state there.

Regional capital Makhachkala is about 620 km (385 miles) east of the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the site of next month's Winter Olympic Games, which President Vladimir Putin has made his top priority for promoting Russia's image abroad.

Moscow has said it expects more than 6,000 athletes from 85 countries and hundreds of thousands of sports fans in Sochi.

It has introduced a security clampdown in the city, bringing in about 30,000 personnel to ensure safety after 34 people were killed last month in suicide bombings in Volgograd, some 700 km (400 miles) northeast of Sochi.

"Our task as the organisers is to ensure security for the participants of the Olympics and guests of this sports fete and we will do everything to that end," Putin said in an interview with several TV channels, according to excerpts run by ITAR-TASS news agency on Friday evening.

The International Olympic Committee has expressed confidence the Games will be safe.

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Jason Bush and Sophie Hares)

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