MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian security forces killed three suspected militants on Friday in a shootout in the North Caucasus, where the government is fighting an Islamist insurgency, authorities said on Friday.

Security forces stormed a house where suspected militants were hiding out in the town of Chegem, near the regional capital Nalchik, after the gunmen refused to surrender.

"Despite efforts to persuade the rebels to stop putting up resistance, they refused and opened intensive fire on security forces," the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in statement. "The decision was taken to storm."

Clashes between security officials and suspected militants are routine in Russia's mostly-Muslim southern provinces.

Russian forces killed 391 suspected militants and arrested 461 more in the North Caucasus last year, the head of the Interior Ministry's operations in the region, Sergei Chenchik, said on Friday.

Militants killed 211 law enforcement officers and 78 civilians in 2012, he added, quoted by Interfax agency.

(Reporting By Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Angus MacSwan)