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Members of Georgian security forces attend an operation to apprehend people who according to local media are suspected of terrorism, in Tbilisi, Georgia November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze

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TBILISI (Reuters) - One Georgian special forces serviceman and three members of an armed group suspected of terrorism were killed on Wednesday in a police operation against the group on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi, state security said.

Four other police were wounded and one member of the criminal group was arrested during the 20-hour operation at a residential block where the group was thought to be hiding.

The operation was launched late on Tuesday and went on through the night into Wednesday. Heavy shooting and explosions were heard throughout Wednesday. Residents of nearby buildings were evacuated.

"The members of the group are not Georgian citizens and it is assumed they are members of a terrorist organisation," state security administration deputy chief Nino Giorgobiani told reporters.

She said surveillance of the suspects had been going on for several weeks and that the state security service was working with international counter-terrorism bodies to identify the group's members and their links to criminal networks.

Giorgobiani said efforts had been made to persuade the group's members to give themselves up but they had refused to do this.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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Reuters