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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Russia crushes rebel city attack
Russian forces storm a shop seized by rebels in Nalchik
Russian security forces spent the night searching for militants
All rebel resistance in the Caucasus city of Nalchik has been suppressed, the regional authorities in Russia say.

The news comes a day after pro-Chechen militants launched an attack on police and government buildings in the city which left at least 90 people dead.

Russian forces stormed two of the last rebel strongholds on Friday, killing a number of gunmen and freeing hostages.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has ordered that any militants found in the sealed-off city be shot if they resist.

Chechen militants have claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Up to 1,500 Russian troops and 500 special forces soldiers have been sent to Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria province.

'War zone'

Eight militants are reported to have been killed in a raid on a police station and five hostages were freed.

In another part of the city, three gunmen who were holding out in a souvenir shop were killed and two women hostages rescued, according to Russia's interior ministry.

Russian forces fight rebels in Nalchik

Gennady Gubin, Kabardino-Balkaria's prime minister, told Russia's Interfax news agency: "All points of rebel resistance have been suppressed and hostages freed.

"Now the security forces are conducting a sweep of the city to find rebels who are hiding."

Estimates of the number of militants involved in the attacks range from 60 to 300. An aide to the president of Kabardino-Balkaria said 17 had been detained.

The authorities say those killed include 72 rebels, 12 police and 12 civilians, with dozens more wounded.

'War zone'

Thursday's fighting is said to have begun after police launched an operation to capture suspected militants in a Nalchik suburb.

Gunmen attacked three police stations, the city's airport and government buildings in what appeared to be an effort to divert police. A school was also caught up in the running gun battles.

Map of Russia's Kabardino-Balkaria province

The pro-rebel Kavkaz Center website said a group known as the Caucasus Front has claimed responsibility for the attack.

It said the group was part of the Chechen rebel armed forces and included Yarmuk, an alleged militant Islamic group based in Kabardino-Balkaria.

The raid is the latest in a series of disturbances that have been destabilising Russia's North Caucasus for more than a year.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says a combination of poverty and iron rule have created a fertile soil for Islamic extremism in the region, exacerbated by an unemployment rate of up to 90%.

Concerned by the spread of extremism, the authorities in Nalchik started closing mosques, our correspondent says, leading to more discontent.

Nalchik is about 100km (60 miles) north-west of Beslan, where Chechen rebels took hundreds of hostages at a school in 2004, in an attack claimed by warlord Shamil Basayev.

Have you been affected by the clashes in Nalchik? Do you live in the city? Do you have families and friends who may have been caught up in the violence? Send us your experiences. If you have any still pictures or moving images you can send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.


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See security forces storm buildings in Nalchik




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: N Caucasus militants
13 Oct 05 |  Europe
North Caucasus: At a glance
08 Sep 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
21 Sep 05 |  Country profiles


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