SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – At least 6 gunmen and 3 police officers died in a gun battle in the Chechen capital of Grozny early on Thursday, according to authorities, destroying the fragile stability in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya. The fighting, came before president Putin’s annual policy address in Moscow, marks the second deadly incident in three months in a city which had been relatively calm since 2010 under the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov, the local strongman backed by Mr Putin.
Mr Kadyrov said on Instagram that three traffic police officers at a checkpoint in Grozny had been killed by militants who arrived in several separate cars. He later said six attackers who had occupied the building of a publishing house were “liquidated” and the building destroyed by fire. Russian journalists and AP reported from Grozny that they saw the building in flames and heard machine gun fire. A video posted online by different social media users showed a building on fire while gunfire could be heard.
In a video shown by Kavkaz Centre, a website used by North Caucasus Islamist groups, a man claimed responsibility for the attack and said the operation had been ordered by Chechen Islamist leader Emir Khamzat. The claim could not be verified.