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Russia's federal authorities say security forces have killed an Islamist militant leader who masterminded attacks in the North Caucasus and threatened Moscow.

Russian news agencies quoted the National Couterterrorism Committee (NAK) as saying security forces shot dead Israpil Velijanov and three other people today in Daghestan.

It said the militants had opened fire on members of the security forces who tried to stop their car.

Velijanov was the top representative in Daghestan of North Caucasus insurgency leader Doku Umarov, who claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on Moscow's busiest airport in January, in which 37 people were killed.

Velijanov was known among insurgents as Emir Khasan.