Interior Minister Killed

In Ingushetia Attack

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Heavily armed assailants seized the Interior Ministry headquarters in Ingushetia and launched coordinated attacks against police headquarters, border checkpoints and government offices in the Russian region bordering the war-ravaged Russian republic of Chechnya, killing at least 22 people, including the acting minister and two other high-ranking officials, a ministry official said Tuesday. Attacks were also reported elsewhere in Ingushetia.

The Interfax news agency reported that 46 people had been killed.

The Interior Ministry official said it was not immediately clear who the attackers were, but said some of them were shouting "Allahu akbar," or God is great, a frequent cry of Chechnya's separatist rebels as their insurgency has become increasingly influenced by radical Islam.

The attack on the ministry building in the city of Nazran began late Monday, the official said. He later said other attackers seized police buildings in Ordzhonikidzevskaya, close to the border with Chechnya, and in Karabulak.

Ingushetia's acting interior minister, Abukar Koshtoyev, was wounded in the first minutes of the fighting in Nazran and was taken to Vladikavkaz in neighboring North Ossetia, where he died, the ministry official said.

Ingushetia's Health Ministry said 47 wounded had been admitted to hospitals, and that six of them had died. Eyewitnesses reported at least six more people dead in an attack on a border guard near Nazran.

The Russian Tass news agency reported that the building of the border guard service in Nazran and an Interior Ministry warehouse in the city were on fire.

Heavy shooting was also reported in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, which borders Chechnya. On Monday, an official in the Moscow-backed Chechen government said that six Russian soldiers had been killed in rebel attacks and explosions over the past day.


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Rival factions fought in Bouake, Ivory Coast's second-largest city, after heavily armed men attacked a convoy carrying the rebel leader, Guillaume Soro, on Sunday.


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-- From News Services