posted at 00:50
Author: Christopher Miller
Chechen police killed by militants during gun battle in Grozny
KIEV, Ukraine - The streets of Grozny, the Chechen capital, were the scene of a deadly battle between local security forces and heavily armed militants early on Thursday. The Moscow-based National Anti-Terrorist Committee said in a statement that security services, police and emergency services personnel had surrounded the Press House building. After more than six hours of intense fighting, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the Press House building occupied by the militants had been destroyed by fire and seven of the militants had been killed. "Dear friends! Dogs are dying like a dog! The operation to destroy the bandits is entering its final phase. Six terrorists have been destroyed in the press house! Not one bandit can escape! I am directly supervising the operation. Our main task is to prevent civilian casualties," Kadyrov wrote in the post, in which he also shared a gruesome photo purported to be one of the militants killed by security forces. Russia's Life News, which is closely tied to Russian security services, cited law enforcement officials as saying some 15 militants hijacked three taxis late Wednesday in the village of Shalazhi and drove them to Grozny, about 30 miles away. An Associated Press reporter saw the Press House building engulfed in flames early Thursday and heard the sound of heavy-caliber gunfire before dawn, several hours after the battle broke out. Unrest is not uncommon in Russia's North Caucasus, where Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has cracked down hard on militant groups since 2005. Thursday's attack shattered a period of relative calm in the north Caucasus and sparked concerns of a fresh outbreak of violence in the region, where Russia has fought two bloody wars with Chechen separatists since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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