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Sporadic Fighting Continuing In Nalchik

13 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- An RFE/RL correspondent on the scene in Nalchik reports that sporadic fighting is continuing between armed militants and security forces and police in the center of the capital of Russia's southern republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

"I'm standing on Lenin Avenue, at the intersection with the Kuliev Street," RFE/RL correspondent Valerii Khatazhukov reported via telephone from Nalchik. "There is a car there with a dead militant. He is wearing a black uniform. His head is lying on the ground. On the other side of the street, there is another body. People say he’s another militant. Further down the street, I can see soldiers dragging away a half-naked man. People say he’s also a militant."

The fighting began after groups of armed militants launched simultaneous attacks this morning against several targets in the city, including the local headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and several police stations.

"Right now, no shooting can be heard, [there are] just isolated shots, Khatazhukov said. "But nobody knows what's going on in the area of the First Department of the [local] police. Everything is blocked, there is no access [to the area]. Shot are heard [coming] from there."

Oleg Shandirov, spokesman for Kabardino-Balkaria's president, said around 10 militants have been killed in the fighting so far, international news agencies reported. He said some policemen were also killed, but he refused to cite their number. A hospital spokeswoman later told Ekho Moskvy radio that at 20 uniformed policemen died in the fighting. She said at least 40 people were being treated for injuries, with more being brought in by ambulances every hour.

Kabardino-Balkaria, along with other southern Russian regions, has seen a rise in violence targeting police and security forces, some of it linked to Islamic extremist

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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