Security forces on Friday stormed a store held by the last terrorist holdouts in Nalchik, Russian media reported. Three terrorists in a souvenir store near the regional headquarters of the Federal Security Service were holding two hostages.
The storming came a day after Islamic militants launched a major attack on police and government buildings in Nalchik, a provincial capital in Russia's volatile Caucasus region, turning the city into a war zone wracked by gunfire and explosions.
Officials said at least 85 people were killed Thursday, including 61 attackers, and that militants were holding hostages at a police station hours after the heavy fighting died down. Chechen terrorists claimed responsibility for the offensive in Nalchik, the capital of the republic of Kabardino-Balkariya, which opened a new front in Russia's decade-old war against Islamic terrorists.
President Vladimir Putin, beleaguered by attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians and underscored his failure to bring the turbulent Caucasus under control, ordered a total blockade of Nalchik to prevent militants from slipping out and ordered security forces to shoot any armed resisters.
ITAR-Tass said that some terrorists tried to escape the city in a van but crashed into a tree and were surrounded and killed. It was unclear how many militants were in the vehicle.