A man looks into a burnt-out car near the Press House building, a local media agency, in the Chechen capital Grozny, December 4, 2014. At least six gunmen and three policemen were killed in gun battles in which a building was stormed in the Chechen capital Grozny on Thursday, the leader of the turbulent southern Russian region said. Source: Reuters
Ten police officers were killed and 28 wounded during a special antiterrorist operation to flush militants out of two buildings in Grozny, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Chechnya, on Dec. 4, according to reports by news agency TASS.
According to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who led the operation, nine terrorists had been eliminated, while the bodies of the rest were “being searched for among the ruins.”
Militants seized and occupied the Press House and a nearby school in Grozny, 930 miles southeast of Moscow, after a firefight with traffic police in the early hours of Dec. 4 that left three officers dead.
According to the TASS news agency, police across the city had been on alert after plans to commit a number of terrorist attacks had come to light during special investigations.
“During the course of active combat operations against an armed gang, information had been received that the gang was planning a series of terrorist acts on the territory of Grozny,” reported TASS, quoting the National Antiterrorist Committee.
Traffic police had been trying to detain a suspicious car, the Interfax news agency reports. In response, the suspects opened fire on the officers from the vehicle. Three officers died on the spot during the ensuing firefight.
There is also another version of events. Citing an eyewitness, the television channel Dozhd reported that militants had originally driven in three cars to the “Heart of Chechnya” mosque, where the first firefight occurred, during which they apparently blew up a police car, killing three officers.
According to both versions of the events, the militants then took refuge in the Press House. Kadyrovsaid another group of militants hid themselves in a neighboring school.
According to eyewitnesses, armored vehicles, troops, and units from the Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry, and Emergency Situations Ministry were brought to the site of the raid and completely surrounded the Press House. The building was heavily damaged by a fire that started inside.
The special operation to eliminate the terrorists continued until approximately 7:00 in the morning. At 7:30 a.m., Kadyrov arrived at the operational headquarters and told journalists that seven militants had been killed at the Press House. At the same time, sources in medical circles told the TASS news agency that some militants were still alive but injured.
Once the raid was over, Kadyrov visited the Press House to make sure the group had indeed been neutralized.
At 10:00 a.m. Moscow time, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee reported that all the militants blockaded in the Press House in Grozny had been eliminated and that measures were being taken to neutralize the militants hiding in the school.
According to unconfirmed information, militants had seized school No. 20 in Grozny. Sources from RIA Novosti reported the same information. No one – not even a guard – was in the school at the time of its assault and seizure, the school’s deputy director Islam Dzhabrailov said on the radio station Govorit Moskva.
“After the special operation led by him, Ramzan Akhmatovich flew to the [annual] address [to the Federal Assembly] by the president [Vladimir Putin],” Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov told RIA Novosti.
Kadyrov had previously told reporters that militants were planning something major in the region for Russian Constitution Day on Dec. 12. “All the necessary measures have been undertaken to disrupt these plans. Thanks to the vigilance of the police, their plans have been thwarted,” he said.
According to Kadyrov, a new building will be constructed to replace the damaged Press House. The old one will not be rebuilt, Kadyrov said, adding that a “better and prettier” one will take its place. Kadyrov said he had ordered Chechnya’s Prime Minister Abubakar Edelgeriev to start examining the building immediately after the investigation concludes.
The families of the officers killed during the special operation will receive 1 million rubles ($18,400) each in compensation, Kadyrov said.
Meanwhile, local police have denied numerous reports spreading on social media that a large group of militants (some cited up to 200-300 terrorists) had slipped into Grozny.
“There were 10-11 militants. All the rest is blatant and shameless lies,” a spokesman for the antiterrorist taskforce told Interfax. “We don’t have anything to hide. The headquarters work openly, without hiding any information about the number of militants or the number of officers killed. We ask you not to believe rumors of various kinds that are not supported by facts.”
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