MOSCOW - Russian security forces killed five Islamist rebels suspected of plotting suicide attacks in the capital of the republic of Ingushetia on Tuesday, Russia's anti-terrorism committee (NAK) said in a statement.

The Kremlin is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus and President Dmitry Medvedev has called the North Caucasus separatist movement Russia's top domestic security problem.

The NAK statement said the rebels opened fire on security forces after they attempted to stop their car. It said all five were killed in the shooting. It said two of the rebels had belts loaded with explosives, which are often used by suicide bombers.

More than a decade after federal troops toppled an Islamist government in Chechnya, security forces are fighting militants in a regionwide insurgency, fueled by anger at poverty, clan feuds and corruption.

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