Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Attack on Chechen parliament in Grozny leaves six dead

Special forces moved quickly to quell the assault

At least six people were killed and 10 others injured as attackers stormed parliament in the restive Russian republic of Chechnya. At least two security personnel and a civilian worker died - along with at least three attackers, two of whom are thought to have blown themselves up. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said all the militants were dead. Correspondents say the incident in the capital Grozny is a reminder that the region is far from stable. Last year Moscow declared victory against Chechen separatists and there had been a relative lull in the violence under President Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed strongman. But the whole North Caucasus is seeing an insurgency led by Islamist rebels, correspondents say. Militants struck at about 0845 (0445 GMT), attacking policemen guarding the parliament building, Mr Kadyrov told Russian news agency Interfax. "As a result of co-ordinated actions, a special operation lasting 15-20 minutes was carried out to eliminate the militants and free the MPs and technical staff who were inside," he said. He added that all the deputies inside the parliament were alive and safe, after being evacuated from parliament.The attack began at the start of the working day, as deputies were arriving at parliament.
The attackers stormed the building, sparking several exchanges of fire with security guards. Two of the attackers appear to have detonated explosives just outside the building. Chechen police spokesman Ramzam Bekkhoyev told the Associated Press news agency that attackers had run inside the building, shouting "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - before opening fire on people inside. A spokesman for the Chechen parliament, Zelim Yakhikhanov, said deputies had feared they would be taken hostage when they heard shooting outside the building. "We managed to take refuge on the third floor where we stayed until the end of the operation," he told AFP news agency. Reports say some hostages were briefly held but have now been freed. It is still unknown how such a small group of armed men penetrated the usually heavily fortified government building. The pro-rebel news website Kavkaz-Tsentr quoted its own unnamed sources in Grozny as saying they had heard a "powerful" explosion, followed by heavy gunfire for more than 30 minutes. The city has been sealed off and armoured vehicles were patrolling the streets, it added.There has been no confirmation of the identity of the attackers.


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