After a day of bloodshed, a tense siege is continuing in a southern Russian town where militants are holed up in two locations, with a small number of hostages. The turbulent Caucasus is no stranger to violence. But the terror that took over Nalchik has proved particularly deadly, with dozens of people killed.
Nalchik is the main city of the Muslim Kabardino-Balkaria region near rebel Chechnya. The region borders North Ossetia where Chechen fighters attacked a school in Beslan last year. Then, over 330 people were killed, half of them children.
Nalchik’s nightmare began with what the authorities say was a “carefully planned” simultaneous attack on police, army and Federal Security Service buildings. Chechen separatists claimed responsibility. In a morning of mayhem, officials say more than 60 militants were killed, as well as at least 12 policemen and 12 civilians. Over 100 people were injured.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his security forces to throw a ring of steel around the town and kill any gunman who put up resistance. The Kremlin claims it has the Caucasus under control. Once again, however, events on the ground present a very different picture.