Saturday has been declared the day of mourning in Kabardino-Balkarian capital Nalchik there 12 civilians and 24 military were killed and 139 wounded in a rebel raid, local media reported.
Russian soldiers and police combed through a city of shattered glass and bloodstains on Friday, searching for alleged Islamic militants who launched a series of fierce attacks on governmental buildings and military facilities on Thursday. Officials say about 100 guerillas were killed and 10 detained.
As the operation to liquidate rebels was announced successful on Friday, it became clear that militants had taken at least 18 hostages in various offices around the city. By midday, the head of the regional government, Gennady Gubin, announced that all rebel resistance in the southern Russian city had been suppressed, all hostages freed. However, two more gunmen involved in the attack were detained in one of Kabardin-Balkaria’s regions on Saturday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saturday expressed condolences to the families of victims and promised that Russia would put down all attacks “hard and consistently.” The newly appointed president of Kabardino-Balkariya, Arsen Kanokov, blamed the attack on social conditions, which rebels have capitalized on.
The attack came amid a long-running regional campaign aimed at undermining nascent Islam extremism, which Russian officials describe as “Wahhabism,” a term stemming from the austere Islamic sect with origins in Saudi Arabia. Rights lawyers, and even the region’s officially sanctioned Islamic leader, say the campaign has caught up innocent, peaceful young Muslims, alienating and offending them as they rediscover their Muslim heritage.
Chechen rebels claimed involvement in the near-simultaneous attacks on police and security facilities that terrified the city of 235,000 and left corpses lying on the streets. But authorities told reporters in Nalchik that two-thirds of the more than militants, mostly aged 20-30, were local residents, the rest being from other Caucasus republics, the MosNews reports.