Gunmen, police clash in south Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria

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Thursday, October 13, 2005 Clashes between gunmen and police have broken out in the capital of the southern Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria where Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for the insurgency.

The fighting in Nalchik started after a coordinated set of attacks were carried out against city security forces and police stations. The airport and government buildings were also targeted. The strike is believed to have come from anywhere between 60 to 500 insurgents. The insurgents used heavy arms fire, coupled with explosions at the outset, that lasted five hours. A police station has been captured and hostages taken.

According to reports from Russian press sources, 61 of the gunmen have been killed and 17 have been captured, and there may be dozens of civilian casualties. Seven policemen were also killed. Several government buildings throughout the city are on fire and some schools have been involved and evacuated accordingly.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered the army to seal off the city and shoot any insurgent who tries to escape. Officials in the city are saying the situation is slowly returning to normal.