Gunmen Storm Chechen Parliament

Oct. 19 -- Gunmen screaming "Allahu Akbar!" stormed the Chechen parliament in southern Russia today, killing two guards and a parliamentary staffer before being killed in a shootout with police.

One of the assailants blew himself up in an apparent suicide attack, The New York Times quoted investigators as saying. No parliamentarians were killed in the spree, and no group has yet claimed responsibility. All three attackers were gunned down.

Gunmen Storm Chechen Parliament, Violence,
Musa Sadulayev, AP
Special Force officers are seen in front of Chechen parliament complex after a bomb blast on Tuesday.
Chechnya is a semiautonomous region of southern Russia that's long struggled with a fierce insurgency by Muslim separatists. The area's rugged mountains harbor Islamic fundamentalists who've fought two wars with Russian troops and whose fight has also destabilized neighboring areas, fueled by religion, poverty and mistrust of faraway Moscow.

Today's attack began around 8:45 a.m. local time as lawmakers and employees were arriving for work at the Chechen parliament complex in the regional capital of Grozny. The assault coincided with a visit by the Russian interior minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev, who wasn't harmed, Bloomberg News reported.

"We heard shots in the courtyard, and we knew they were trying to take us hostage," parliamentary spokesman Zelim Yakhikhanov told Agence France-Presse. "We managed to take refuge on the third floor, where we stayed until the end of the operation."

At least 17 people were wounded, The Associated Press reported, describing a grisly scene at the parliament, with body parts strewn in the hallways and the severed head of an insurgent being carried away.

Nurgaliyev discussed the situation by phone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is in France today for talks with his French and German counterparts.
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