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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Road Attack in Chechnya Kills 14

Itar-TassThe twisted and charred metal remains of a vehicle after an attack on federal forces in northwest Chechnya on Tuesday. Two children were among the dead.
ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Attackers opened fire Tuesday on a minibus carrying security forces in Chechnya, and then set off a bomb when a second vehicle came to help. Fourteen people were killed, including two children, regional officials said.

The guerrilla raid, one of the bloodiest in recent months, occurred in an area of Chechnya under firm federal control, once again demonstrating Moscow's inability to end the decade-long separatist insurgency in this mainly Muslim southern republic.

Chechnya's Moscow-backed president, Alu Alkhanov, said 14 people had died and more than 20 others were wounded in the attack in the village of Znamenskoye, Interfax reported.

A senior Chechen Interior Ministry official, Akhmed Dakayev, said three civilians -- including teenagers aged 13 and 14 -- were among those killed, Interfax reported. He said 19 civilians and five policemen were wounded.

News reports, citing unidentified officials, said one child was killed while riding a bicycle past the scene.

Alkhanov accused Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basayev of ordering the attack but insisted the situation was under control.

"Terrorists under Basayev's command are trying to destabilize the sociopolitical situation in the republic," he said, RIA-Novosti reported. "The situation is under the full control of the Chechen leadership."

Television pictures showed the twisted and charred metal remains of one vehicle and investigators picking through fragments on the ground nearby.

An official from the Interior Ministry branch for southern Russia, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position, said the minibuses had been carrying Interior Ministry forces. He said one child was killed, but did not have details.

Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said the bomb was equivalent to 8 kilograms of TNT, Itar-Tass reported.

Zaina Akherukhanova, an ambulance doctor from Znamenskoye, said by telephone that the attack had left the town in fear.

"There were 20 wounded in our hospital, and some wounded were taken to other hospitals. The residents are in panic. Many are leaving the place," she said.

A truck-bomb attack on a government compound in Znamenskoye in May 2003 killed at least 60 people.

Znamenskoye is in northwestern Chechnya, which has been under the control of federal forces since the first months of the second Chechen war.

There have been comparatively few attacks in that region since then.

President Vladimir Putin told a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the "latest tragic events" showed the need to accelerate measures to beef up security in the troubled North Caucasus, where the violence from Chechnya is increasingly spilling over into neighboring provinces.

"What we have planned there -- we need to do it and as soon as possible," he said in televised remarks.

Federal forces withdrew from Chechnya in 1996, when the first Chechen war against separatist rebels ended in a stalemate. They returned in 1999 and quickly took control of Chechnya's northern plains but have been unable to drive rebels from the mountainous south.