Russia's Vladimir Putin told terrorist insurgents on Friday they could expect no mercy in future after his forces said they killed scores of gunmen who launched an audacious raid on a town in the Caucasus. Speaking after ministers gave him an official report on Thursday's raid on Nalchik that throws in doubt the Kremlin's control of the mainly Muslim Caucasus region, Putin said security forces had acted "coherently, effectively, toughly".
"Our actions must be commensurate with all the threats that bandits pose for our country. We will act as toughly and consistently as we did on this occasion," Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.
Russian security forces said on Friday they had all but wiped out the remnants of a small army of terrorists, linked to the Chechnya independence cause, who launched coordinated attacks on police, state security and other strategic buildings, according to Reuters.
What was believed to be the last terrorist resistance, a small group of fighters holed up in a prison administration building, had been wiped out by security forces by Friday afternoon.
"We have found so far 9 bodies of terrorists but we may find some more elsewhere in the building," a colonel, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters at the scene.
Police said they were now focussing on hunting down any gunmen who may have ditched their arms and tried to sneak out of the city, set in the foothills of the towering Mount Elbrus, by melting into the local population.
Separatists from nearby Chechnya, who have been fighting against Moscow rule for a decade, said they staged the raid with support from local anti-Kremlin insurgents.