Russian forces kill eight rebels, free hostages

Russian security forces killed a group of eight armed rebels and freed five hostages after storming a police station in the southern city of Nalchik early on Friday where the gunmen were holed up following a deadly rampage, a local official said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Meanwhile 10 members of the special forces launched an assault at 8.30am (4.30am GMT) on a shop where another group of gunmen, believed to be Chechen rebels, were hiding, an Agence France Presse reporter at the scene witnessed.

Deputy prosecutor Vladimir Kolesnikov told Interfax: “Following the operation to free the third Nalchik police station, eight combatants have been killed.”

An interior ministry source said that the gunmen had been killed while attempting to flee in a van.

In the storming of the souvenir shop, the special forces fired automatic arms and hurled grenades at the building where the gunmen had taken refuge following Thursday’s attack by a much larger group which left at least 60 people dead.

There was no immediate information on the result of that operation.

More than 150 armed assailants took part in Thursday’s commando-style operation which targeted police stations, ministerial and security offices and a private armoury in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, one of seven Caucasus republics belonging to the Russian Federation. - AFP

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