Russian troops in Ingushetia; Moscow has been seeking to quell Islamic militancy in the region for years [Reuters]

Seventeen armed fighters and three Russian security force members have been killed in fighting in the restive North Caucusus region of Ingushetia, according to Russian officials.

Two suspects were arrested over January's suicide bombing at Moscow airport which killed 35 people, officials said.

An official told the Reuters news agency that the fighting took place in Verkhny Alkun, a village 40 km south of Ingushetia's largest town, Nazran.

"Sixteen fighters were eliminated in the woods... and one was killed when the house he was hiding in was stormed," the official said.

State TV reported that two members of the federal security forces (FSB) and an official from the Interior Ministry were also killed.

The pro-Russian authorities in Ingushetia, like other mainly Muslim regions of Russia's Northern Caucasus, has been seeking to quell an Islamist separatist movement over the past years, which has claimed scores of lives.

Magomed Yevloyev, 20, from Ingushetia, detonated explosives in the international arrivals hall of Domodedovo airport in January. Two of his siblings and a third alleged accomplice have since been charged with helping him,

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, said at the time that his forces would "liquidate" those responsible for the attack.

Source: Agencies