Four Rebels Killed in Attack on Church in Chechnya

Four rebels were killed during an attack on a church in the Russian republic of Chechnya, officials said on Saturday.

The Investigative Committee, Russia's top investigative agency, said two police officers were killed and another two were wounded in the clash. One churchgoer also died dead and another one was wounded.

"According to early information, two policemen in charge of security at the church ... and a civilian were killed," the officials said. They added that "four rebels have been eliminated" while two other policemen were hurt.

They also indicated a knife and a gun were found on the attackers behind the assault targeting the Archangel Michael church in central Grozny, and said police had prevented "more serious consequences and a larger number of victims."

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov had earlier told Russian news agencies that rebels acting "on the orders of a Western country" were seeking "to take believers hostage" in a troubled republic where Russia has fought two fierce wars with separatists over the past 20 years.

The attack underscored security challenges in Russia as it prepares to host the Fifa football World Cup next month.

Grozny is not scheduled to host any World Cup games, but the Egyptian team planned to use it as a training base.

Kadyrov said the gunmen also carried axes and Molotov cocktails. He praised police officers who guarded the church for their courage and said the region would help the families of the officers who died.

The Chechen leader said three of the attackers were residents of Chechnya and one came from a neighboring region.



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