Russia's Dagestan temporarily on high alert after reports of armed man in Makhachkala

FILE PHOTO: A view of Derbent synagogue following an attack by gunmen and a fire

(Reuters) - Russia's Dagestan region was put temporarily on a high alert late on Tuesday after reports of an armed man in Makhachkala, one of the two cities in the North Caucasus region where gunmen killed 20 people over the weekend.

The region's police conducted checks on several streets in Makhachkala urging people to flee the area after reports of an armed man on one of the city's squares, RIA state news agency reported, citing a spokeswoman for the region's internal affairs ministry.

"Everything is calm," RIA cited the spokeswoman, Gayana Garieva, as saying late on Tuesday, adding the reports about the armed man had not been confirmed.

A representative of the ministry told TASS state news agency that after a couple of hours, police removed the cordon from around the University Square in Makhachkala's centre.

Russian media reported police continued with further checks and stopping suspicious vehicles.

On Sunday, in brazen coordinated attacks on churches and synagogues in the mainly Muslim region, gunmen killed 20 people in two of the republic's most important cities, Makhachkala and Derbent.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Russia's investigative committee said 15 policemen and four civilians were killed, including an Orthodox priest. According to Dagestan's healthcare ministry, 46 more people were wounded.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Jamie Freed)