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New shooting breaks out in south Russian city

Shooting broke out Tuesday in the southern Russian city of Nalchik, as security forces said they were launching special operations to detain suspected militants.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Shooting broke out Tuesday morning in the southern Russian city of Nalchik, as police and security forces said they were launching special operations to detain suspected militants.

Alleged Islamic extremists conducted a coordinated series of attacks on police and other government buildings in the city on Thursday, and some 137 people were killed in the fighting, according to official data.

Local television urged residents of the city not to leave their homes if possible Tuesday, and the local schools administration advised parents to take their children home from schools and nursery schools.

Sweep for suspected rebels
Shooting was heard in the suburb of Dubki, where the city’s main morgue is and where security forces were conducting a sweep for suspected rebels, residents said. Gunfire also broke out in the town’s center and its southwestern edge.

The Interfax news agency reported that police killed a man early Tuesday when he allegedly put up resistance during a document check. Two other men who resisted managed to escape, Interfax said.

Top warlord claims deadly raid
Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, the author of modern Russia’s most horrifying terrorist attacks, claimed he was behind last week’s attacks in Nalchik, according to a statement posted on a Chechen rebel-connected Web site.

Basayev reportedly said the attacks were carried out by militants affiliated with the Chechen rebels, but that Chechen fighters were not involved, indicating an increasingly organized effort to set up militant cells throughout the region that take direction from Basayev.

“I carried out the general operative management,” Basayev said, according to the statement published Monday by the Web site of the Kavkaz Center, which is seen as a mouthpiece for Chechnya’s Islamist separatist rebels.

Previously, authorities had suspected much of the violence in the Caucasus region was a spillover from the long-running war in Chechnya between the rebels and Russian forces.

Basayev said last week’s attacks on police and government buildings in Nalchik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkariya republic, were launched by the republic’s section of the so-called Caucasus Front, believed to include militant cells throughout the restive Caucasus region.

Basayev has claimed responsibility for organizing last year’s hostage-taking at a school in Beslan, which ended in the deaths of more than 330 people. He also said he planned the 2002 seizure of some 800 hostages in a Moscow theater.

Militants in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, last year launched a wave of coordinated attacks on police arsenals and security facilities similar to the Nalchik siege. Basayev said he also organized the Ingushetia attacks, which killed 92 people.