Gunmen stormed the parliament building in Grozny, the volatile capital of Chechnya, yesterday morning in an audacious attack that left six people dead and 17 injured.
The assault — most likely carried out by Islamic insurgents — appeared to be timed to coincide with a visit to Grozny by Rashid Nurgaliyev, the Russian Interior Minister.
The attack deals a blow to Chechnya's Moscow-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has claimed that there are only a few dozen remaining militants, portraying the insurgency as on its last legs.
The attack occurred shortly before 9am local time, as Chechen MPs were arriving for work. A militant approached the gates of the building and detonated a suicide belt, blowing himself up and injuring others around him, according to reports from the scene.
Then at least two other militants ran into the parliament, opening fire on those inside.
A firefight ensued as the men barricaded themselves in a room inside the building. Mr Kadyrov arrived on the scene to personally direct the operation to “liquidate” the attackers.
The men were killed when they detonated suicide bombs after being surrounded by special forces troops.
Reporters at the scene saw bodies being removed along with the severed head of an insurgent.
Along with the three militants, two policemen and one civilian were killed. Reports said that a further 17 people were injured in the attack, including six police officers and 11 civilians.
“All of the MPs are alive, have been taken away from the parliament, and are safe,” said Mr Kadyrov, shortly after the operation was completed.