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Russia Detains 15 Members of Banned Islamic Group

FILE - A police minivan is seen entering a Moscow detention facility.
Russian security forces detained 15 suspected Islamist militants in Moscow on Wednesday after confiscating improvised bombs and other weapons in a raid on an apartment, the Interior Ministry said.

It said in a statement that the detainees were members of a group called Takfir Wal-Hijra, which was banned in Russia as a religious extremist organization in 2010, and were led by a man who had come to Moscow after studying in Arab states.

Russia has tightened security in the run-up to the Winter Olympics, which it will hold in the southern resort city of Sochi in February, and President Vladimir Putin has staked a lot of personal prestige on organizing a successful Games.

Fourteen people were detained in the raid and the 15th was detained separately, the Interior Ministry said.

It accused the group of trying to recruit people into radical Islam, including ethnic Russians and other Slavs, and members were suspected of carrying out robberies, assaults and other crimes to finance their activities.

During the raid, three homemade bombs and components of explosive devices were found, as well as grenades, guns that fire plastic bullets and extremist literature, the statement said.

The detainees included citizens of the Central Asian states of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, people from Russia's mostly Muslim North Caucasus and two ethnic Russians, the ministry said.

Islamist militants in the North Caucasus carry out frequent attacks in the region, but have also staged deadly bomb attacks in Moscow. Arrests of alleged militants are relatively rare in the Russian capital.