At least one attacker was believed to have set off a suicide bomb just outside the building before the others rushed inside, exchanging fire with security guards.
Three suicide bombers launched an attack on the Chechen parliament Tuesday, killing at least three people, officials told CNN. Vladimir Markin of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office said two police officers and a civilian died in the attack. Six other officers and 11 civilians were wounded, he said.
A few hours after the attack was reported, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office said that police had the situation under control. “The special operation on neutralizing rebels who had stormed into the Chechnya parliament building has just been completed,” the office’s Investigative Committee said on its website. “All of them were destroyed in a special operation when they showed resistance.”
The militants entered the parliament compound as lawmakers were making their way in, according to RIA Novosti, another state news agency. One of them blew himself up at the entrance to the building, while two others managed to get inside and barricade themselves on the ground floor, Markin said. As they were attacked by security forces, they too blew themselves up, he said.
The explosions caused heavy damage to parts of the building, according to a reporter for the Russian Interfax news agency. Stained-glass windows on several floors were blown out, as were exterior tiles on the building, and some interior walls were demolished, the reporter said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was on a visit to France, was informed about the incident, the Kremlin reported on its website. Local Russian news agencies reported from the Chechen capital, Grozny, that the parliament resumed its work hours after the incident and held a planned session to discuss the republic’s budget. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov was there, as was Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, who has been in Chechnya on an inspection visit.
In 2002, suicide bombers driving two trucks carrying an estimated 1 ton of explosives rammed the gates of another government building in Grozny, killing 72 people and wounding 310.
Rebels in Chechnya started out fighting for independence in the 1990s, but in recent years, the fight has been aimed more at imposing Islamist rule and asserting their authority in the area. “Their ideology is akin to the al Qaeda school of thinking,” said Sajjan Gohel, Director for International Security at the Asia-Pacific Foundation. “That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a direct link to groups led by Osama bin Laden. But certainly their motivations are pretty similar. They want to create an Islamic Emirate across the Caucasus region where Chechnya is located.