Dozens killed in attack on school and airport in Russia


Dozens killed in attack on school and airport in Russia ^ | 13/10/2005

About 60 people have been shot dead in gun battles around a school and airport in southern Russia.

Chechen rebels have claimed on a web site that they were behind the attacks in the region of Kabardino-Balkariya this morning.

Most of the victims are reported to have been rebels, though 12 people living in the town of Nalchik are said to have been killed.

The gunmen have also stormed a police station and taken hostages, Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin envoy to southern Russia, told state television. Efforts were underway to free them, he said.

"These were meticulously planned and synchronised attacks," a police source was quoted as saying by Tass which described the attackers as "religious extremists".

An unnamed military source was quoted as saying by Interfax: "Fighting is going on everywhere. The attackers are trying to seize cars and burst their way out of the town."

The shooting began in a suburb before moving to a school and airport as well as several other districts. About 150 rebels are believed to have taken part in the attacks.

A teacher from the school, who gave only his first name, Spartak, said the children had been evacuated. Black smoke billowed from the school as panic-stricken parents searched for their children in the school yard.

The school is in front of the North Caucasus department on fighting terrorism and a city police unit.

The regional office of the Emergency Situations Ministry said that fighting was also underway at the city's airport. The Interfax news agency reported that security forces had repelled an attack there.

The militants also attacked the regional headquarters of the Russian prison system, the Emergency Situation Ministry's press office said.

Kabardino-Balkaria is a Muslim region in the Caucasus that borders the North Ossetia province where Chechen militants attacked a school in the town of Beslan in September 2004, resulting in the deaths of 331 people, half of them children.