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Violence erupts around Chechen parliament in Grozny

Violence broke out in Russia's Caucasus province of Chechnya on Tuesday. At least seven people died when Separatist Islamist militants tried to storm parliament. The raid was put down by loyal security forces.

Special Forces officers in front of the Chechen parliament complex

Russian special forces quelled the attack on the parliament

Russian security forces killed several Chechen separatist rebels who had tried to attack the parliament building in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Tuesday morning.

Fighting had erupted around the parliament after a suicide bomber blew himself up on the grounds of the building, while other insurgents attempted to storm parliament. According to Russian media reports, at least four people where killed in addition to at least three of the attackers.

The militants briefly managed to seize the parliament building and take hostages. Security forces loyal to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov where able to take the building back shortly afterwards and bring the situation under control.

"A special operation to destroy the insurgents has taken place," Kadyrov said, adding that all of the attackers had been killed.

According to Chechen officials, all of the deputies and other people inside the building were freed. At least 17 people were injured in the attack.

The attack was a major blow to Moscow's claim that stability had returned to the troubled province.

The volatile region in the Russian Caucasus has been fighting an Islamist separatist insurgency in Chechnya and neighboring areas for years.

EU condemns the attacks

The EU's chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton, said she was "appalled by the attack." In a statement, she pledged to strengthen cooperation with Russia to fight international terrorism.

"No circumstances can justify the use of terrorist violence and suicide attacks," the Ashton said.

"We confirm our readiness to strengthen cooperation with the Russian Federation in the fight against international terrorism."

The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, also condemned the attacks. "Violence and murder can never, in any situation, be accepted as forms of protest," he said.

However, Buzek also called on Moscow to do more to reinforce the rule of law in Chechnya. Russia is frequently accused of human rights violations in its fight against the separatist insurgents.

Long history of violence

A map of Chechnya

Chechnya is in the south of Russia

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia fought two successive wars in the province to stamp out separatist ambitions.

The war officially ended in 2000, yet Islamist rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency, with unrest spreading into other mainly Muslim provinces of the northern Caucasus, such as Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Chechnya has in recent years seen an improvement in security under Kremlin-backed leader Kadyrov, although sporadic attacks have continued across Russia.

In March, two suicide bombers on the Moscow metro killed 40 and wounded more than 100 people.

Author: Andreas Illmer (AFP, apn)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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