Violence has returned to the Russian republic of Chechnya. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 20 others injured in an attack on armoured police carrier. Authorities say rebels ambushed the vehicle as it made its way through a village some 60 kilometres northwest of the regional capital, Grozny. The Kremlin has been trying for years to crush a separatist insurgency in the mainly Muslim republic. It has most of the region under nominal control, but police and troops still die daily, mainly in Grozny or the remote mountain villages.
In response to the attack, President Vladimir Putin called for a speeding up of moves to close weak spots on the border with the ex-Soviet states of the South Caucasus. “The tragic events show that all we are planning must be done, and must be done quickly,” he said at a government meeting, referring to plans to both toughen security and boost the economy to try and undermine the rebels’ support base. Pro-Moscow local officials have blamed forces loyal to Russia’s most wanted man, Shamil Basayev. But the warlord’s group denies it had anything to do with the attack.