At least 20 killed in fighting in Russia’s Chechnya

The burnt exterior of the Press House, a local media agency, is seen in the Chechen capital Grozny, December 4, 2014. Credit: Reuters

(Reuters) – Gunmen attacked a police post and stormed a building on Thursday in Grozny, capital of Russia’s southern province of Chechnya, killing 10 policemen in clashes in which 10 of the attackers were also killed.

The bloodiest fighting in Chechnya for months erupted a few hours before President Vladimir Putin said in a speech in Moscow he would defend Russia against what he called attempts to dismember it.

The attack underlined the fragile security situation in Chechnya more than a decade after Putin sent troops to quell an Islamist separatist uprising there.

Ten policemen and 10 suspected militants were killed, Russia’s National Anti-terrorism Committee (NAK) said, adding that another 28 law enforcement personnel had been wounded.

However, Putin praised the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, for carrying out a “professional” security operation.

He said earlier on Thursday during his annual state of the nation speech at the Kremlin that Russia was surrounded by enemies who sought to dismember it and to destroy its economy, adding: “We did not allow it”…