US condemns 'terrorist attack' on Chechen parliament
The United States Tuesday denounced a "terrorist attack" on the parliament in Russia's conflict-torn region of Chechnya, after militants stormed the building and killed three people.
"The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on the Parliament in Chechnya," National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.
"We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who perished and to those who were wounded."
A group of up to four militants broke into the parliament building in the Chechen capital Grozny early Tuesday, sparking fears of a major hostage crisis before security forces moved in.
"Terrorism is unacceptable in any form. The United States underscores its resolve to work together with Russia in combating terrorism and protecting the innocent who always suffer from its brutal tactics," Hammer added.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, added to the White House concern.
"We also express our solidarity with Russia in the struggle against terrorism," Toner told reporters.
"We're concerned about continued violence ... in Russia's North Caucasus, which contributes to instability and personal insecurity in the region," he said.
The US government is following "events closely" as independent reports indicate "that the level of violence has increased in 2010 in several North Caucasus regions," he added.
Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov said in a statement that Chechen security forces staged an intense 20-minute operation to kill the militants and free the parliament deputies and employees from the building.
Three people -- two police working as security at the parliament and one civilian employee -- were killed in the raid, the investigative committee of prosecutors said, adding 17 people were wounded.
© 2010 AFP