Security forces have launched raids against suspected Islamic militants in the southern Russian city, Nalchik, where militants attacked government buildings and police station last week. More than 100 people were killed in clashes between troops and militants last week.

Police and security forces in Nalchik say they have launched special operations against suspected militants there.

Gunfire has been heard in various parts of the city and local media have broadcast announcements for people to stay in their homes. City schools have been closed.

More than 100 people - including dozens of civilians - were killed last week, as militants launched coordinated] attacks, with the help of separatist rebels from the nearby region of Chechnya.

After the fighting raged last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin ordered that the city be sealed off to prevent any militants from escaping.

The militants are reported to belong to a local group that has links with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who has claimed responsibility for coordinating last week's attacks.

The fighting in Nalchik is now raising concern that the ongoing separatist war in Chechnya may be spreading in the region.