• Hours before Putin’s address.

Security forces in Chechnya stormed two buildings, including a school, in fierce gun battles with militants early Thursday that left at least 19 persons dead. The fighting erupted just hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin was to give his annual state of the nation address in Moscow.

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee have confirmed that militants traveling in three cars, entered the republic’s capital, Grozny, at 1 am, killing three traffic police at a checkpoint, and then occupied the 10-story Press House in the center of the city. They further stated that six gunmen were killed inside the building, which was gutted in a fire that also spread to a nearby market.

More gunmen were later found in a nearby school and security forces were sent to eradicate them. No students or teachers were in the school when it was seized by the militants. Security officers were seen firing automatic weapons and grenade launchers at the three-story school, its windows completely damaged.

Sources have since confirmed that the security operation was over and at least nine militants were killed by the security forces. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said 10 officers were killed and 28 wounded in the fight against the militants, who it said were from a known group operating in the North Caucasus. In October, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a concert hall in Grozny, killing five policemen and wounding 12 others as the city was holding a celebration.

Extracted and modified from Yahoo News


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