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Roundup: Nalchik operations continue, city starts returning to normal


MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - The North Caucasus city of Nalchik is gradually returning to normal after Thursday's militant attack, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the city.

Although troops continue to patrol the streets, people are already able to leave their houses, some shops have opened, and there are cars on the roads.

On Thursday morning, a group of militants attacked Nalchik, the capital of the republic of Kabardino-Balkariya, targeting several facilities, including a police station, border guard headquarters, and the airport. The Interior Ministry believes that up to 100 militants were involved.

After holding hostages in an Interior Ministry building overnight, seven militants tried to break out of the city in a minibus. However, they were killed and their hostages rescued, a spokesperson for the republic of Kabardino-Balkariya's Interior Ministry said.

"The terrorists tried to break out of the Interior Ministry building in a Gazel [minibus], but their driver lost control and the vehicle hit a post," the spokesperson said. Troops then eliminated the militants.

According to the ministry's latest information, 15 gunmen have been killed in or near the building in addition to the 61 militants killed Thursday and 17 arrested.

Elsewhere in the city, two hostages were released and three militants killed in a souvenirs shop. According to medical staff in the city, 14 civilians were killed in the attack and 115 are in the hospital.

Fifteen kilometers outside Nalchik, five militants were killed and one detained in a cornfield near the city of Chegem, a source from a local law-enforcement agency said Friday.

The source did not rule out that the gunmen had been part of the group that attacked Nalchik Thursday.

Deputy General Prosecutor Vladimir Kolesnikov identified Thursday the suspected masterminds of the attack: Astimirov Anzor, wanted by the authorities for several terrorist attacks and murders, and Gorchkhanov Ilyas, a henchman of Russia's terrorist no.1 Shamil Basayev.

Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky said Thursday that he did not have any information that Basayev himself was behind the attacks.

The militants who have so far been arrested are undergoing questioning, and some have already provided information that will be of use in further investigations, Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said after cutting short a trip to Luxembourg and returning to the country.

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