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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Gunmen Killed in Nalchik

Two armed insurgents were killed in a massive police operation Thursday in Nalchik, the capital of the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, authorities said.

Regional officials said one of the dead insurgents was suspected of leading deadly attacks on government offices in Nalchik in 2005.

The operation was launched early Thursday against Islamist insurgents holed up in an apartment just 300 meters from the republic's counterterrorism headquarters, Channel One reported.

After several hours of frantic shooting and the evacuation of the building's residents, police used grenade launchers against the gunmen hiding in the ground-floor apartment.

Two bodies were retrieved from the subsequent rubble.

Two police commandos were wounded by booby traps set by the insurgents in the abandoned apartment, Channel One reported.

Police said that among the two killed was Anzor Astemirov, suspected of organizing a series of attacks by about 150 armed insurgents against local officials in October 2005.

Thirty-five law enforcement officials and 12 civilians were killed in those attacks, while 92 of the rebels were gunned down and 70 arrested in authorities' responses.

Currently, 58 men are on trial in Nalchik for purportedly participating in those attacks.

Shortly after the 2005 rampage, the Chechen rebel web site Kavkaz Center posted a video featuring Astemirov and Shamil Basayev, the now-deceased former Chechen rebel leader, discussing the Nalchik raid.

An unidentified law enforcement official told RIA-Novosti in Nalchik that an autopsy will be required to positively identify Astemirov, as the rebel's body was severely disfigured in an explosion.

Fighting between law enforcement authorities and rebels in Kabardino-Balkaria has intensified this month, with three rebels and a senior prison service official killed in shootouts.