Russian security forces have killed three suspected militants during a firefight in a volatile province of Russia's North Caucasus.

A spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry's branch in the province of Dagestan says that its forces surrounded a house in the town of Khasavyurt where the suspects were hiding on Sunday. Ruslan Ibragimgadzhiev says that they refused to surrender and died in an armed confrontation.

Mainly Muslim Dagestan is the principal breeding ground for Islamic militants in Russia and there are regular attacks on police and officials. Russia fought two bloody separatist wars in the neighboring province of Chechnya after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Some militants in Dagestan and other parts of the North Caucasus have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group.