Local prosecutors said there had been some losses in the ranks of the law enforcement agencies and some civilians had been wounded after the militants had attacked the city's main police department, broken into an arms depot and blew up a base station belonging to mobile operator MegaFon.
A journalist from a local TV station told RIA Novosti Thursday that the gunfire had become quieter but smoke hung over the city, and the police and army were on the streets. He added that the militants had been dressed like civilians and concealed their guns under their clothes.
"With the current panic in the city, they were mixing in with other people, moving to different locations and then resuming random shooting on the streets, including firing at civilians," he said.
Armored vehicles and special forces were involved in efforts to repel the attack, and police were stationed to prevent any attempts made by the gunmen either to break out of the city or to stop any additional forces reaching them.
The Chechen Interior Minister said that he had formed a special detachment that was ready to depart for Nalchik if necessary.