3 Killed in Building Siege in Dagestan

Itar-TassOfficers preparing to storm an apartment building Monday in Makhachkala where suspected militants were hiding.
Police and security forces fired grenades and bullets during a siege of an apartment in Dagestan, killing three suspected militants, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Authorities surrounded and evacuated the building on the outskirts of Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, late Sunday, and a gunbattle broke out after suspected militants in a second-floor apartment in a five-story building refused to surrender, deputy city police chief Shamil Guseinov said. One police officer was wounded.

After a hiatus overnight, the government forces opened fire again in the morning. A few hours later, they entered the ruined apartment and found the bodies of three suspected militants, Guseinov said.

Vyacheslav Shanshin, head of the FSB branch for Dagestan, told reporters at the site Monday that the special forces had faced some difficulty carrying out the operation, Itar-Tass reported. Several residents stayed in their apartments, refusing to open their doors when officers evacuated the building. Five apartments were destroyed in the operation.

In Chechnya, military troops and police searched for five to seven gunmen who attacked federal forces in a forested area in the south late Sunday, killing one police officer and wounding another.

Also Monday, a serviceman who was convicted of killing three Chechen civilians in 2003 but failed to appear for sentencing, has been added to the federal wanted list, said Yevgeny Zvyagin, an official of the top military court for the North Caucasus.

Yevgeny Khudyakov was one of two Interior Troops lieutenants stripped of their ranks after the conviction, and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. He did not turn up for his sentencing last month.

According to court papers, Khudyakov and Sergei Arakcheyev were manning a checkpoint in Chechnya when they forced the victims out of a truck, ordered them to lie down and shot them dead. The bodies were doused in fuel and set on fire, prosecutors said. Both men denied the charges.

AP, MT