Two killed in attack on Russian power plant: company

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Militants burst into a hydroelectric power plant in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region in a dawn attack on Wednesday, killing two people and wounding another two, officials said.

"There was an explosion on the premises of the Baksanskaya hydroelectric power plant" early Wednesday, state-run power group RusHydro said. "Two guards died, two people were hospitalized," it said in a statement.

The company said the incident was likely a "terror act."

Officials, including an officer with Russia's security service FSB who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said unknown assailants burst onto the premises of the station and killed two guards.

They tied up staff employees at the power plant. "Some time later an explosion took place in the engine room," regional official Gennady Vykhristyuk said in televised remarks.

The explosion partially damaged the plant and set it on fire.

Authorities however had managed to stop the flow of water and put out the fire, said Vykhristyuk.

"There is no danger of a technological accident or catastrophe," he added. "The power plant's staff are alive and well." He did not give further details on how the staff who had been tied up were freed.

The FSB official said said law enforcement officials, including sappers, were now working at the scene. It was not immediately clear how many blasts there had been at the plant, he said.

Built in the 1930s, the power plant is located on the Baksan river in Kabardino-Balkaria, part of the North Caucasus region where Russian authorities are battling a Muslim insurgency.

Deadly attacks in the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan are a near-daily occurrence.

Kabardino-Balkaria is also part of the Caucasus but has until now seen less of the unrest that characterises the simmering guerrilla conflict between Russian forces and separatist rebels.

Militants have long pledged to bring war to Russia's heartland and also destroy key infrastructure sites.

In March, Russia was shaken to the core when two female suicide bombers, both from the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, killed 40 people in a pair of coordinated attacks on the Moscow metro.

Medvedev has said the unrest in the Caucasus is Russia's most serious domestic problem.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled a new economic drive to end the unrest in the Caucasus in an ambitious drive to bring prosperity to the violence-torn region.

© 2010 AFP

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