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Russia resistance 'suppressed'


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Chechnya (Russia)

(CNN) -- A day after more than 100 militants attacked city buildings and took hostages in the southern Russian city of Nalchik, sparking bloody clashes with police, an area official declared Friday the resistance had been suppressed and all hostages freed, according to the Interfax news agency.

The regional headquarters of the Federal Service for Corrective Institutions was cleared of militants, Valery Krayev, acting deputy head of the service, told the news agency. Interfax initially reported two militants had been found there, but later said 12 had been killed.

Authorities do not know how many militants may remain in Nalchik, Oleg Shandirov, head of the presidential administration of Kabardino-Balkariya, told Interfax. Some may be trying to pose as civilians.

None have tried to escape from the city, he told Interfax, as it has been sealed off by law enforcement and military authorities.

Earlier on Friday, Russian special forces lifted the blockade around the building and freed nine people, Valery Krayev, acting deputy head of the Federal Service for Corrective Institutions told the news agency.

Earlier Friday, Russian forces killed eight militants and freed five hostages who had been held in a police station, Interfax reported. Hostages were also freed from a Nalchik souvenir shop and their captors eliminated, Vladimir Kolesnikov, Russia's deputy prosecutor, told the news agency.

The hostages from the police station were freed Friday after a vehicle with the hostages and militants inside left the precinct escorted by police cars, Interfax said, quoting a spokesman for the Interior Ministry of Kabardino-Balkariya.

"In a street crossing the driver lost control over the vehicle and it drove into a tree," the spokesman said. "At that moment, the armed part of the operation began."

An estimated 150 militants attacked the city in the Kabardino-Balkariya on Thursday, officials told Interfax. The regional interior minister told Interfax about 91 have been killed, 36 detained and 9 have been charged.

Twenty-four members of law enforcement died -- 18 police officers, two Interior Troops, two Federal Security Service officers, one border guard and one officer from the Federal Service for Corrective Institutions, the interior ministry spokesman told the news agency. In addition, 58 were hospitalized with injuries, he said.

Interfax reported between 14 and 24 civilians were killed and 120 were wounded.

As of Friday, 97 people remained hospitalized for injuries suffered during the siege, a Russian Health Ministry spokesman told the news agency.

Authorities largely repelled the attack, Interfax has reported. The militants were found to be carrying weapons including AK-47 and Kedr assault rifles and grenade launchers, along with large quantities of ammunition, officials said.

On Thursday, the news agency reported President Vladimir Putin ordered a "complete blockade" of Nalchik after the fighting erupted, along with "elimination of armed people resisting detention."

"A law enforcement source earlier said that the gunmen launched the attack after security forces detained a group of Wahhabis, whom their supporters are currently trying to release," Interfax reported. Wahhabi is a strict, legalistic sect of Islam, and is the dominant sect in Saudi Arabia.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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