Nalchik: situation is under the control, officials say


The critical situation in Nalchik is under the control of law-enforcement bodies and interior troops of Russia, Kabardino-Balkaria's prosecutor Yuri Ketov was quoted as saying.

Scores of militants made simultaneous attacks on police stations and other government buildings in one of the main cities in Russia's turbulent Caucasus region Thursday, sparking battles involving heavy-arms fire and explosions that forced the evacuation of schools and left corpses in the streets. Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkariya, a republic near Chechnya. The republic has faced a growing wave of violence that appears to be connected to Islamic extremists and that is seen as a spillover of the Chechen rebels' decade-long fight against Russian forces. The Russian deputy interior minister, Aleksandr Chekalin, said in Moscow that more than 50 militants had been killed. Estimates of the number of attackers ranged from 60 to 300. Behind the attacks stood the Jamaat group of Wahhabi. "We have information that taking part in the attack were both local Wahhabis and outsiders, including those from Chechnya. Some 50 militants were killed as police rebuffed the attack on government bodies in Nalchik and in shootouts in the streets. Some militants were captured alive," President of Kabardino-Balkariya Arsen Kanokov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

The gunmen simultaneously attacked three police stations, the city's airport and the regional headquarters of the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. The rebels also attacked the city's military commissariat and raided a hunting store, apparently to obtain weapons, the officer said. The militants also attacked the regional headquarters of the Russian prison system, the Emergency Situation Ministry's press office said. Interfax said an office of the border guards also came under attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also paying attention to the incident and receives rapid updates on the developments. A.M.