MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian security forces killed at least three gunmen in the city of Kazan on Wednesday, authorities said, in fighting that will deepen fears of a rise in Islamist militancy in the mostly Muslim Tatarstan region.
Police and security troops surrounded an apartment building in the city - some 720 km (450 miles) east of Moscow - where an unknown number of gunmen were hiding on the first floor, the regional Interior Ministry branch said.
Three of the gunmen and a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer were killed and another officer wounded during the siege, which continued into the evening, the ministry said.
The ministry said the total number of fighters was unknown and added that one of those killed had an explosive device. Russian news agencies cited law enforcement sources as saying the gunmen were "adherents of radical Islam".
Unlike Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, where clashes between police and Islamist insurgents are regular events, oil-producing Tatarstan has until recently been relatively peaceful.
In July, Tatarstan's top Islamic official, mufti Ildis Faizov, was wounded in a car-bomb attack and his deputy was shot dead the same day. President Vladimir Putin traveled to Tatarstan in August to call for an end to religious violence.
(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; editing by Ron Askew)