Twenty dead, 40 wounded in Nalchik attacks

At least 20 people were killed and 40 wounded in attacks by gunmen on government installations in the southern Russian city of Nalchik, a local hospital spokeswoman told the Echo Moskvi radio station.

The spokeswoman said two of the dead appeared to be from among the gunmen who launched the attacks, but provided no further information on the identities of the other victims.

Russian media quoted officials as saying that there were dead and wounded among security personnel following the attacks, which bore the hallmarks of an operation by gunmen from the nearby breakaway province of Chechnya.

Earlier, a local official said security forces entered a primary school in Nalchik to evacuate children from the building after gunmen attacked nearby government buildings, reports Forbes.

As many as 60 rebels attacked police stations and security service offices in Nalchik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria region, Interfax news service reported, without saying where it obtained the information. Kabardino-Balkaria borders the republic of North Ossetia, where at least 331 people died last year in Russia's worst terrorist attack.

Terrorists backing independence for Chechnya took about 1,200 hostages at a school in Beslan on Sept. 1, 2004. The siege, organized by Chechen rebel Shamil Basayev, ended when Russian special forces stormed the building.

The roads to the central part of Nalchik are blocked and citizens have been asked to remain in their homes, Golub said. Cell phones don't work, Alexei Golub, head of the press service for the Nalchik Mayor's Office.

Russian federal forces repelled attempts to capture the local airport and troops have surrounded the city, Interfax reported earlier today. The attacks are believed to be in retaliation for the arrests of members of a Wahhabite Muslim group, the news agency reported, citing unidentified officials, informs Bloomberg.


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