Russian security forces killed three militants, including the regional leader of an insurgent group fighting to carve out an Islamic state in Russia's restive North Caucasus region, state news agencies cited officials as saying on Friday.

Russia is struggling to contain a growing insurgency in the mainly Muslim southern region, where it plans to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Security forces exchanged fire on Friday with militants who had blockaded themselves in a private home in the Ingush village of Ekazhevo, the hometown of a suicide bomber who killed 37 at Moscow's busiest airport, Itar-Tass and RIA reported.

Russian officials said the men killed in the shootout were members of the outlawed Caucasus Emirate, led by Chechen-born Doku Umarov, who claimed responsibility for the bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in January last year.

Russia's Anti-Terrorism Committee said one of the men killed, Dzhamaleil Mutaliyev, was the leader of the insurgency in Ingushetia and masterminded a 2010 bombing of a market which killed 18 people in nearby Vladikavkaz.

(Reporting By Thomas Grove)