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Two militants shot dead in Russia's Dagestan

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Security officers shot dead two suspected militants in Russia's volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said on Wednesday.

Moscow is struggling to quell the persistent attacks by Islamist militants more than a decade after it fought two separatist wars in the adjacent republic of Chechnya.

Security officers surrounded a house in the village of Sogratl, some 100 km (60 miles) southwest of the regional capital Makhachkala, where the two suspected insurgents were hiding, the statement said.

Two unidentified women with a baby left the house after law enforcement officers demanded that the militants surrender. The two rebels then opened fire and were shot dead, the statement said.

Rights groups say the revolt is driven by a volatile mix of religion, corruption and grievances against the strongarm tactics of some local leaders against suspected militants and their families.

Russia has tightened security in the surrounding region less than a year ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which it is planning to host on the western side of the Caucasus mountains, 1,000 km (620 miles) from Dagestan.

(Reporting By Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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