Rebel Chechen leader Shamil Basayev is reported to have claimed responsibility for last week’s attack on a town in southern Russia which left scores of people dead.
Basayev, who is Russia’s most wanted man, made the claim on a rebel website.
He was also behind the Beslan school siege, over a year ago, that killed 330 people, half of them children. Russian authorities say it was to prevent a repeat of such bloodshed that they acted so quickly and decisively to last Thursday’s assault on Nalchik, in the Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.
The exact death toll is not clear. Russian forces claim to have killed more than 70 militants and say that 24 security force personnel and 12 civilians also died.
But the attack, in which several government buildings were targeted, showed the rebels are still capable of spreading the conflict in Chechnya beyond its borders.