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Russian security forces battle militants before Olympics

Russia Sochi Rogge
(Reuters) - Three Russian servicemen and four gunmen were killed in a shootout in southern Russia on Wednesday during a sweep for militants before the Sochi Winter Olympics.

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.

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.

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wdavid890dd January 16 2014 at 5:19 AM

the peace loving muslims at it again, remember munich back in 72.they killed those jewish athlets
all in the name of allah.maniacs and losers is all they are.

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Cary January 16 2014 at 1:39 AM

anyone that goes to the olympics after this is totally nuts...the USA should boycott and make sure no US citizens gets hurt....

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Joebudgie January 15 2014 at 11:25 PM

It's a shame the purity of the Olympics has been wrecked forever by the threat of terrorist activity. I will miss the freedom of personal expression and the once in a life time adventure afforded the atheletes. Will it ever be safe to go out in public again?

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 10:32 PM

I just hope Putin and company can keep anything bad from taking place. It looks like it wont be easy, but I would bet my last dollar that the Russians will give it their best shot.
May GOD bless them and guide their efforts to control the situation and keep all from harms way.

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divrgeorge January 15 2014 at 9:40 PM

I just hope the Russians are paying very close attention to the security forces. I have to believe that could be a weak link if exploited.

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manfrombighorn January 15 2014 at 9:36 PM

"Allah Acbaaaaaaar!" Just dive to the ground for your safety. Sad.

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 9:29 PM

If the olympics were held in the USA this year and we had some muslim extremists causing problems then barry would probably just call it sports enhanced violence.

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Kelly Marie January 15 2014 at 9:54 PM

Yep, and Dubya would call it an opportunity to have some fun... are you serious? I understand how absurd my statement is.....If wonder if you understand the regarding yours?

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 9:58 PM

Work place violence, sports enhanced violence, whats the diff ?

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 10:02 PM

If obozo can call a muslim extremist killing our soldiers an act of work place violence then how absurd is He ?

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Mike January 15 2014 at 11:49 PM

Probably not.

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raydar67 January 15 2014 at 9:28 PM

Russia is going to have these problems for YEARS to come.It's a wonder the U.S.S.R. lasted as long as it did.

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spokajo January 15 2014 at 9:27 PM

It is a big mistake for these Olympics to be held in such an obviously dangerous part of the world. I realize that it is dangerous everywhere but this is extreme to the point that, if I were an athlete I might think twice. Something is going to happen and it will be tragic. The Islamist terrorist leader has expressly ordered that the Olympics be targeted for attacks.

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 9:35 PM

there were no worries in Berlin in 1936

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chypher January 15 2014 at 9:59 PM

You don't have a clue at all.
There was no terrorism back then and nobody was targeting the Olympics unlike now.

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itchy1958 January 15 2014 at 10:18 PM

You are the one chypher who does not have a clue. Terrorism has always existed.
So I guess what you are saying is that uncle Adolf and the national socialists were saints?

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Janice January 15 2014 at 9:16 PM

I don't think our athletes should go to these games.

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steeltwobrv January 15 2014 at 10:01 PM

I really enjoy whatching the Olympics but I have to aggre with you Janice it's not worth losing lives.

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eddieflguy January 15 2014 at 11:51 PM

I also agree with you Janice as I don't believe that a medal of any kind is worth a life.

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