Gun Battles Rage In Parliament Of Russia's Chechnya

RIA news agency said that a suicide bomber had detonated explosives outside parliament as deputies arrived for work and that rebels then went on a shooting spree.

Interfax said the attackers seized hostages, but it was unclear how many and whether they were still being held. Reuters sources in Grozny said that the building had been sealed off but could not confirm reports of hostages being taken.

The Kremlin is struggling to contain a growing Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, a strip of impoverished, mainly Muslim provinces along predominantly Orthodox Christian Russia’s southern border.

The Kremlin had declared victory in its battle with Chechen separatists, but analysts say a wave of shootings and bombings over recent months shows Moscow has failed to tame the growing insurgency.

Local leaders say it is fuelled by desperate poverty, clan rivalries, rampant corruption, Islamism and heavy-handed tactics by law enforcement agencies. Reuters